Transient Ischemic Attack [TIA] is often called a mini-stroke, but
it’s really a major warning. TIA is a temporary blockage of blood flow
to the brain. Since it doesn’t cause permanent damage, it’s often
ignored. But this is a big mistake. TIAs may signal a full-blown
stroke ahead. When you first notice symptoms, get help immediately.
Even though they can be troubling, TIAs do not appear to cause lasting
damage. Why? A TIA occurs because of a blockage to the brain. But the
body fights back quickly by pushing the TIA “downstream” or by using
natural clot-dissolvers — anticoagulants — in the blood. The blockage
isn’t in place long enough to do any lasting damage. Without blood
flow, brain tissue can be injured. The severity of any
blockage-related stroke is determined by the location of the injury in
the brain and how long the tissue is without blood.
TIA as a Warning for Future Stroke
TIAs are often called “mini-strokes,” because their immediate
consequences are fairly harmless. But “warning stroke” is a better
label, because a TIA usually foreshadows a full-blown stroke. TIAs are
caused by a clot or blockage in the brain. The blockage is short term.
The clot usually dissolves on its own or gets dislodged, and symptoms
usually last less than five minutes.
TIA Risk factors and treatments
Anyone can have a TIA but the risk increases with age. If you’ve
previously had a stroke, pay careful attention to the signs of TIA,
because they could signal a second stroke in your future.
The risk factors are smoking, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and
blood clots called embolisms. Get help immediately if you think you
could be having a TIA.
If you’re worried that you’re having a transient ischemic attack or
TIA, get medical help right away. If you think you might’ve had one in
the past, do your homework and talk with your doctor. TIAs are often
followed by more severe strokes.
People who have severe strokes often report having earlier warning
strokes. Between 7 and 40 percent of patients who are treated for a
blockage-related stroke (or ischemic stroke) report experiencing a TIA
Why is a TIA an Emergency?
If you think you’re having a transient ischemic attack, also called a
TIA or a mini-stroke, your symptoms may resolve quickly. But it is not
safe to assume you don’t need urgent medical care. In fact, you should
call 911 right away.
The warning signs for a TIA are the same as a stroke and sudden onset
of the following:
Weakness, numbness or paralysis on one side of your body, slurred
speech or difficulty understanding others, blindness in one or both
eyes, dizziness and severe headache with no apparent cause.
Educate yourself on the warning signs of stroke — and do it F.A.S.T.
F – Face drooping
A – Arm weakness
S – Speech slurred
T – Time to call for help