Beware the 'Mini-Stroke'

Wednesday, 24 Apr 2013 09:20 AM

By Chauncey Crandall, M.D.

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A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an important warning sign of an impending stroke. With a TIA, the symptoms are the same as a stroke, but they disappear — often within an hour — so many people ignore the problem and don’t seek treatment. That is the wrong thing to do.

TIAs, also called "mini-strokes," do not destroy brain cells or result in permanent disability, but they must be treated seriously. Research shows that about one-third of people who experience TIAs go on to suffer a stroke within a year. In fact, 10 to 15 percent suffer a stroke within three months, and 40 percent of these occur within the next 24 hours.

If you think you are experiencing a TIA, call an ambulance just as you would if you were having a stroke. This will provide crucial time to discover any underlying condition, such as carotid artery disease, an arrhythmia, or even a hidden heart defect.

Be aware of the warning signs of a TIA:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially concentrated on one side
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, trouble walking
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

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