An extra 500 lives each year could be saved if the NHS acted more quickly with stroke patients, it has been claimed.
An audit of services by UK doctors has found that people who experience a mini-stroke are treated as low-priority.
However, those with facial or arm weakness, speech problems or blurred vision are at a risk of having a severe potentially-fatal stroke unless surgery is received quickly.
The operation to remove a diseased blood vessel supplying the brain should be done within 48 hours, but within two weeks at the latest for it to be of benefit.
Yet many patients have to wait months for the treatment - by which time the damage has often already been done, the audit found.
Reacting to the news, Nikki Hall of the Stroke Association said: "This audit shows that there is still a long way to go to make sure people get urgent preventative treatment that could prevent a catastrophic stroke."
The charity estimates that every five minutes someone in the UK experiences a stroke.
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