A stroke is something to be feared, as it is a major cause of disability and death among Americans, especially seniors. Actually, there are cases where a mini stroke occurs and if the right steps are taken a major stroke may be prevented. The mini stroke called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) has neurological symptoms similar to a major stroke, but does not usually last for more than a few minutes. A TIA mini stroke is usually from a small blood clot or a few small blood clots that cause a temporary cut-off in the blood supply to the brain that usually does not last longer than five minutes. Within an hour the symptoms usually go away, but sometimes can last up to 24 hours.
More than a Third of People who Have a TIA Mini Stroke will Experience a Major Stroke
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claim that more than a third of people who have a TIA mini stroke and do not get treatment will experience a major stroke within a year and about 10-15% of them will have a major stroke within three months after the TIA. The Stroke Organization states that 40% of the people who have a TIA will have a major stroke and nearly half of the strokes will be within a few days after experiencing a TIA.
TIA Mini Stroke is a Medical Emergency
A TIA mini stroke is a medical emergency just like a major stroke, so phone 911 right away. In fact, the beginning signs of a TIA are often the same as the beginning signs of a major stroke. Do not wait for the symptoms to get worse before phoning for emergency help. Even if symptoms go away quickly, you or your loved one still must have emergency medical treatment in a hospital. Time is of essence with a stroke and the longer the blood supply to the brain is cut off, the more nerve cells are destroyed and the greater will be the disability. To read more about stroke see our blog post from February 15, 2019.
Signs of a TIA Mini Stroke
If you or your loved one have any of these signs phone 911 right away. Even if symptoms only last for a few minutes you still must get major emergency life-saving treatment in order to prevent the onset of a major stroke.
- Numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body, in the arm, face or leg.
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech and confusion
- Vision disturbances in one or both eyes.
- Difficulty walking and maintaining balance
What Causes a TIA Mini Stroke
- Reduced blood flow at a narrow part of a major artery like the carotid artery that carries blood to the brain
- A blood clot that forms in the heart or some other part of the body like the legs and breaks off and travels to the brain where it blocks a blood vessel in the brain
- Narrowing of a smaller blood vessel in the brain due to a buildup of plaque that causes a temporary cut off or reduced blood flow to the brain. This can be a result of coronary artery disease (CAD).
Treatment of a TIA Mini Stroke
If the TIA mini stroke was the result of a blockage in the main carotid artery in the neck that carries blood to the brain, the doctor may perform a stenting procedure to open up the area that was blocked. This can prevent future strokes.
Also, the doctor may prescribe drugs to thin the blood to dissolve any blood clots and to prevent more clots from forming. Your doctor may also prescribe blood pressure lowering drugs or medicines to treat heart disease.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Strokes
The number one thing you can do is to quit smoking which is one of the main causes of high blood pressure which leads to strokes. Enroll in a quit smoking program. You can get help for quitting smoking from the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).
- Cut down or stop drinking alcoholic drinks.
- If you or your loved one are diabetics, you must get blood sugar (glucose) under control.
- Manage high blood pressure by measuring your blood pressure often. If it is a major problem, then purchase a monitor so you can take your own blood pressure every day at home.
- Maintain a normal weight. If you are overweight or obese, cut down on high calorie foods and drinks. The more excess baggage you ae carrying around, the greater is the strain on your health.
- Stick to healthy eating practices. Avoid fried and greasy food. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grained breads and cereals. Use olive oil instead of lard or margarine.
- Get plenty of physical exercise.
Post Stroke Care
If you or your loved one are in need of long-term skilled nursing care after a stroke, check out the Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey. Park Crescent offers warm and skilled post-stroke nursing care. They also have a state-of-the-art gym and a fantastic array of recreational activities.
Even if you or your loved one have symptoms that could be a stroke that last only for a few minutes you must get urgent medical attention in order to prevent a major disabling stroke.