A charity survey has found 74% of people would not go to accident and emergency if they experienced symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).
Research conducted by the Stroke Association found that more than two thirds of people did not recognise the symptoms of a TIA - which affects more than 46,000 people every year in the UK.
While 87% of people would be worried if they experienced the symptoms - which include short periods of facial weakness, speech problems and pins and needles down one side of the body - just 26% of people said they would go to hospital if they experienced them, according to the poll of 2,000 people.
The charity, which released the figures to coincide with World Stroke Day, said TIA is a warning sign for a major stroke.
Research has previously indicated that if all patients experiencing a mini-stroke received emergency treatment, almost 10,000 strokes could be avoided every year in the UK.
Jon Barrick, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said: “The results of this poll are very concerning. Over 150,000 people have a stroke every year in the UK but up to 10,000 of these could be prevented if more people were aware of the symptoms of TIA and sought out emergency treatment.
“Not only would this save thousands from a lifetime of disability, it would also save the health service a considerable sum.
“Too many people remain unaware of the huge risk of stroke following a TIA. This needs to change. Anyone who experiences the symptoms, regardless of whether they disappear within a matter of minutes, should go to hospital immediately. Assume it’s a stroke until it’s proven not to be by a medical professional.”
The Stroke Association said that without emergency treatment, one in 10 people who have a TIA will go on to have a full stroke within a week.
The charity said that like a major stroke, a TIA can be diagnosed using “Fast” even though symptoms are only temporary.
The “Fast” campaign urges people to look out for the following signs and call 999 if they spot a single one: Facial weakness - can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped? Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms? Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Time - to call 999 for an ambulance if any one of these signs occurs.