Transient Ischemic Attacks: Understanding Mini Strokes
A transient ischemic attack (TIA), more commonly known as a mini-stroke, occurs when a temporary blood clot restricts blood flow to the brain or another major artery. A mini-stroke is a warning sign that a major stroke may occur further down the line. In fact, one in three people who have a TIA will go on to have a major stroke, and this risk is especially high in the 48 hours after a TIA.
A mini-stroke is usually resolved in minutes to hours, but symptoms can last up to 24 hours. The main difference between a stroke and a TIA is that the blockage in a mini-stroke is temporary, or transient.
While TIAs typically do not cause permanent damage to the brain, they should be taken as a serious warning sign that you are at risk for having a major stroke.
What Causes a Mini-Stroke?
- Low blood flow: This usually happens at a narrow part of a major artery, such as the heart or brain.
- Another blood clot: If there is a blood clot in another part o the body, the clot can break off and block other blood vessels.
- Narrowing of a blood vessel in the brain: Plaque (a fatty substance) can sometimes block blood flow temporarily, causing a mini-stroke.
There should be no difference in how an individual responds to a stroke and mini-stroke, considering the signs and symptoms are the same.
Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, leg, or one side of the body
- Confusion, trouble speaking and understanding speech
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking due to dizziness and lack of balance and coordination
- Sudden, severe headache
The goal of stroke management is to lessen the chances of a future stroke and better understand the warning signs of a stroke by controlling stroke risk factors.
- Change in diet
- Increase of physical activity
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Not smoking
Medications to Prevent Strokes
- Manage high blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol
- Take aspirin or blood thinner
Recognizing Signs of a Stroke
To recognize signs of a stroke, remember to act F.A.S.T.
- F – Face drooping
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech difficulty
- T – Time to call 911
Fast Facts About Strokes
- Around 40% of people who have a mini-stroke will suffer a major stroke
- Nearly half of strokes occur a few days after a TIA
- Symptoms of a mini-stroke are the same as a stroke
- Home treatment is not acceptable for a stroke, you must call 911
Again, recognizing the signs, symptoms, and presentation of mini-strokes can serve to further prevent full strokes and maintain a healthy life in general!