Former 'Coronation Street' star suffers mini stroke aged 35: Symptoms of transient ischaemic attack

Chris Fountain has revealed he has suffered a mini stroke, pictured in June 2019. (Getty Images)
Chris Fountain has revealed he has suffered a mini stroke, pictured in June 2019. (Getty Images)

Former Coronation Street actor Chris Fountain has revealed he has suffered a mini stroke, which left him “speaking like a toddler”.

The 35-year-old, who played Weatherfield’s Tommy Duckworth in the soap, said he spent five days in a London hospital in August after waking up at home unable to speak properly.

Doctors discovered he had suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – known as a mini stroke – after a blood clot lodged in his brain.

“I woke up one morning and knew something wasn’t right," he told Mirror.

“My mum called me and I just couldn’t get my words out. I started walking round my house looking at things and I could think what the word was, like television or fridge, but I couldn’t say it.

“I called 111 on my mum’s advice and they sent an ambulance for me, it was so scary.

“I felt stupid because I knew exactly what I wanted to say to the doctors, but I couldn’t get the words out, I was speaking like a toddler, I was really embarrassed.”

The former Coronation Street actor said he was left speaking like a toddler, pictured in 2009. (PA Images)
The former Coronation Street actor said he was left speaking like a toddler. (PA Images)

Fountain said he broke down in tears when doctors informed him he had suffered a TIA.

After several days of undergoing tests at a specialist stroke unit at the Royal London Hospital, medics had determined the actor had a hole in his heart which had caused the blood clot to travel to his brain, triggering the stroke.

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What is a transient ischaemic attack?

According to the NHS, a transient ischaemic attack – or mini stroke – is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain, which results in a lack of oxygen getting to the brain.

This can cause sudden symptoms similar to a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance, and numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs.

Meanwhile the Stroke Association says a TIA is the same as a stroke, except that the symptoms only last for a short amount of time.

“This is because the blockage that stops the blood getting to your brain is temporary,” the site explains.

A TIA is a warning sign that you may be at risk of having a full stroke in the near future.

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What are the signs and symptoms of a TIA?

The NHS uses the F.A.S.T acronym to list the main signs as:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.

  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.

  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

The Stroke Association says there are some other common signs of TIA and stroke to look out for.

They include:

• Sudden weakness on one side in your arms, hands or legs.

• Sudden blurred vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes.

• Sudden memory loss or confusion.

• Dizziness or a sudden fall.

A TIA is a medical emergency, the same as a stroke. If you spot the signs of a TIA or stroke, call 999. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms pass.

If you didn’t get medical help right away, get an urgent appointment with your GP or go to an NHS urgent treatment centre to get your symptoms checked as soon as possible.

Read more: How to spot a stroke: Symptoms, causes and treatment

Sufferers of TIA are at risk of suffering a full stroke. (PA Images)
Sufferers of TIA are at risk of suffering a full stroke. (PA Images)

Causes of a transient ischaemic attack

As the NHS explains during a TIA, one of the blood vessels that supply your brain with blood becomes blocked.

This blockage is usually caused by a blood clot that's formed elsewhere in your body and has travelled to the blood vessels supplying the brain.

However, it can also be caused by pieces of fatty material or air bubbles.

Read more: Mum left disabled after doctors dismissed stroke as 'high blood sugar'

Risk factors of a TIA

Treatment of a TIA

Although the symptoms of a TIA resolve in a few minutes or hours, according to the Stroke Association you'll likely need treatment to reduce the chance of another clot entering your brain.

They may include: Blood-thinning medication and treating blocked or damaged arteries in the neck.

You'll also likely to be given advice about lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your stroke risk.

Additional reporting PA.