Mini Strokes: Why Timely Treatment For a TIA is Critical

By: Dr. Ellen Edgar  -  no responses  -  Education, Neurological Blog, Treatments


X-Ray image of TIA

TIA is an acronym for transient ischemic attack. A TIA is commonly referred to as a “mini stroke,” and although you’re seldom left with the lasting damage that a major stroke causes, it’s something you should take seriously.

What is a TIA?

A TIA is similar to a stroke. A blood clot forms in, or travels to, the brain. This cuts off the blood supply to the part of the brain served by the blood vessel in which the clot forms. Unlike a stroke, a TIA is transitory—it lasts only a few minutes. Then the clot dissolves and blood flow is restored, and the symptoms subside. TIAs usually pass without any permanent injury to your brain.

How do you recognize a TIA?

The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke. The only real difference is that TIA symptoms last no more than an hour, and generally no more than a few minutes. Symptoms of a TIA include:
• Numbness or weakness on one side of your body, especially your face
• Difficulty speaking, including slurred or garbled speech. You may also have difficulty making sense of what other people are saying.
• Vision problems such as double vision or loss of vision in one or both eyes
• Difficulty with balance or coordination

The best way to remember TIA/stroke symptoms is to keep in mind that you have to act F.A.S.T.
F = Face. Facial paralysis is one of the hallmarks of stroke.
A = Arm. Weakness or paralysis in one arm is also common.
S = Speech. Slurred speech is a sign of TIA or stroke.
T = Time. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s time to seek treatment.

Who’s at risk for a TIA?

Anyone can have a TIA, but certain factors may make one more likely. Men are more likely than women to experience both TIAs and strokes, and a family history of either raises your risk. The risk also increases with age, and African Americans are more prone to TIAs than other races.

While these factors are out of your control, other conditions and lifestyle factors can also make a TIA more likely. These include:
• Smoking
• Birth control pills
• Heavy alcohol use
• Being overweight
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Carotid artery disease
• Peripheral artery disease

Does a TIA need treatment?

If you have the symptoms of TIA/stroke you should seek treatment. Since both are caused by a blood clot and the symptoms are the same, there’s simply no way to tell at the outset whether you’re having a TIA or a full-blown stroke. If you’ve had a TIA and the symptoms have passed, treatment is still important. Having a TIA is a warning sign that you may have a stroke in the future, and prompt treatment can reduce the risk of this happening.

Why should I see a neurologist for this condition?

Sometimes other conditions and problems are mistaken for a TIA. Consultation with a neurologist ensures that you get the correct diagnosis, and that any other possible neurological causes are ruled out.

If you believe you’ve had a TIA, the most important thing you can do for your brain is to seek treatment. Contact the experts at Complete Neurological care today for a consultation.

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