Confusion occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, and neurological symptoms appear based on the affected area of the brain. A mini-stroke, also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), is a short-term loss of blood flow that is reversible before permanent damage to brain tissue. If you’ve had a TIA, it’s important to seek medical attention because it can be an early sign of a future stroke. In fact, one in three people who have a TIA will have a more serious stroke within 48 hours, and according to the American Stroke Association, 10 to 15 percent of people who have a TIA will have a major stroke within three months. This is important information to remember.
Usually brief, TIA symptoms can easily fly under the radar, go unnoticed or just feel like fatigue or dizziness, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms when they appear.
Let’s take a deeper look at TIAs to understand their causes, risk factors, stroke symptoms, and warning signs you may be missing.
What causes a mini stroke?
There are several important causes of blood clots, one of which is blood clotting. Anyone can suffer from it, but if you have high blood pressure (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes, your risk of developing a TIA is higher. Additionally, the risk of TIA increases with age.
“There’s a misconception that transient ischemic attacks can only happen to the elderly, but that’s a myth,” says Anita Mehta, a neurologist at Summit Health. “TIA and stroke can affect anyone.” In 2009, 34 percent of people hospitalized for stroke were under the age of 65.”
Symptoms of a mini stroke
Stroke symptoms usually last only a few minutes. However, this does not mean that someone will not experience the symptoms of a stroke for a long time. In some cases, symptoms can last up to 24 hours.
Common symptoms of a TIA include:
Dizziness or loss of balance
Temporary weakness and numbness on one side of the body, usually the arms or face
Speech and language difficulties
Vision problems or difficulty seeing out of one eye
Confusion or difficulty understanding
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Although no one wants to suffer a mini-stroke, it is a warning sign that can help prevent future strokes. Remember, up to 15 percent of people who experience a TIA have a stroke within 90 days.
Symptoms of stroke
A helpful way to recognize the symptoms of a stroke or TIA is FAST, an acronym for the American Stroke Association.
F – drooping face
A – hand weakness
S – speech impairment
T – Time to call 911
Mini stroke treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with a mini-stroke, these are treatments that can help reduce your risk of a stroke in the future, including:
Anticoagulants with blood-thinning action
Lifestyle changes to improve cardiovascular health
Surgery is rarely required to correct anatomic defects that increase the risk of blood clots
Prevention of stroke
Regardless of age or health status, we can all reduce the risk of taking medications by improving our cardiovascular health. You can do the following:
Avoid smoking. If you are a heavy smoker, talk to your doctor about resources to help you quit smoking
Eat a healthy diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables
Try to maintain a healthy weight
Final Thoughts on TIAs and Ministrokes
Understanding the signs, risk factors, and symptoms of a mini-stroke is important to prevent a full-blown stroke. Get regular checkups to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing any of these symptoms.