Kevin joins stroke study

SEVEN years ago Kevin Watters woke from sleep. He felt rested and ready to add another day to his 77th year.

He quickly moved to get out of bed and in the seconds that followed Kevin says he knew that he was in trouble as "it felt like my leg was missing".

Kevin recalls feeling shocked and confused as he lay on the floor and within seconds his wife of 30 years, Winifred was at his side.

With her help Kevin says he was able to return to sit on their bed and remarkably within minutes Kevin says he felt fine, that he could again feel and control his leg and it was as if nothing had happened.

But something had happened and so Kevin and Winifred looked to the team at Albert Street Medical Centre in Taree for help to diagnose the condition and deliver a solution to minimise the risk of it recurring.

In time Kevin learned he had suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), colloquially known as a minor stroke or a funny turn, and it was possible that it could recur.

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Kevin recalls the news didn't shock or upset him as "really, owing to my age it's always in the back of my mind that something could happen."

That was seven years ago. Kevin is now 84-years-old and uses medication to reduce the risk of another TIA but adds "there is nothing I can do about it".

His very relaxed attitude to the threat of a TIA does not mean he does not care about the fact that it is often a precursor to a stroke.

He is happy and thankful that he has not suffered another TIA and is now working with the University of Newcastle to help researchers learn more about TIAs and practice management of the condition.

Professor Chris Levi from the University of Newcastle is the leader of the Hunter Medical Research Institute Brain and Mental Health Research Program and is looking for more TIA patients in Taree to help researchers investigate primary care and patient outcomes.

Kevin's experience of a TIA is being monitored as the Albert Street Medical Centre in Taree is one of 18 general practices across the Newcastle, Hunter and Manning regions included in the study.

Knowledge gleaned from Kevin over time through numerous surveys is valuable but the researchers are keen for more Manning Valley people who have suffered a TIA to join the program.

According to Professor Levi the program currently draws information from around 275 people but researchers are seeking to boost participant numbers to around 800.

"We are finding that the majority of patients are being managed in primary practice despite international guidelines recommending patients seek specialist consultation," Professor Levi said.

"We hope this translational research study will lead to the development of Australian guidelines for the management of TIA and minor stroke."

For more information contact study manager Debbie Quain from the University of Newcastle on 4968 6735.

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