Transient Ischemic Attacks: Symptoms and Prevention

TIA stands for transient ischemic attack and is often called a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke”. But don’t let the nicknames fool you. A TIA is just as serious as a full blown ischemic stroke and an ambulance must be called as soon as possible. According to the Mayo Clinic, one third of all people who suffer a TIA have a full blown stroke within one year. Many people experiencing a TIA will argue that the symptoms will go away soon and not to bother with them. Ignore this argument and call an ambulance immediately.


Symptoms

The symptoms for a stroke and TIA are mostly the same, only they tend last a lot shorter than a full blown stroke. These symptoms mean that a blood clot is preventing oxygen flow to the brain. Although TIAs last less than one hour at a time and blood flow to the brain returns, damage can still be done.

A person suffering from a TIA can get some or all of these symptoms. The main alarming symptoms are:

  • *Problems speaking, including slurred speech or talking jibberish
  • *Numbness in a limb, hand, foot, part of the face or down one side of the body
  • *Feeling faint and confused, where even the smallest decision is difficult
  • *Very painful headache
  • *Drooping down of one side of the face
  • *Loss of coordination on one side of the body
  • *Vision problems, including blurred vision, tunnel vision or loss of vision

TIAs generally last for much less time than a full blown ischemic stroke, sometimes as less as fifteen minutes. But sometimes they can last for hours or even come in clusters, with two or more in a 24 period. This is one reason why it’s good to be in the hospital when the first TIA hits, just in case another should come along.

If the Person Argues

Symptoms for TIAs may disappear within a few minutes. A person suffering from these symptoms may also believe they just have the flu and they do not want to go to the bother of going to the hopsital. It is normal for anyone that has a mini-stroke to argue about going to the hopsital.

But TIA symptoms should never be ignored because of the high possibility of another mini-stroke or full-blown stroke happening within 24 hours. If your loved one friend or co-worker experiences these symptoms and argues about going to the hopsital, argue back while you drive them to the emergency room or dial for an ambulance. This writer’s mother experienced a TIA and yet argued strongly about going to the emergency room. Myself and a kindly neighbor got her to the hopsital despite her protests and a few hours later she had another TIA and could be helped immediately.

Prevention

Fortunately, taking the lifestyle changes to prevent a TIA or a stroke may also prevent many other kinds of potentially lethal health problems such as heart disease, Type II diabetes and some cancers. These hints about preventing a stroke may sound familiar to you already:

  • *Quit smoking or never start smoking
  • *Reduce your intake of second had smoke as much as possible
  • *Quit or drastically reduce alcoholic beverages
  • *Quit or don’t start taking illegal drugs
  • *Eat a sensible, varied diet high in fiber and low in fat, cholesterol and sodium
  • *Exercise regularly for at least a half hour three times a week
  • *Find out what you should weigh and work to get to that weight and stay there. If you do all of the other tips mentioned above, that will considerably help your efforts at slimming and keeping the weight off.

These prevention tips will help keep your blood from clotting and keep up good blood circulation. Some patients may be put on aspirin therapy if their doctors recommend it.

Additional References:

American Heart Association. “Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).” http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4781

American Stroke Association. “TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack.)” http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/TIA/TIA-Transient-Ischemic-Attack_UCM_310942_Article.jsp

UK National Health Services Choices. “Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).” http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Transient-ischaemic-attack/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Author’s personal experience.