A TIA Is Your Stroke Warning
Find out how a TIA is different from a stroke, and what having a TIA could mean for your future health.
Mini-stroke. Little stroke. Pre-stroke. Warning stroke. These areall terms used to describe a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, whichcauses the symptoms — but not the damage — of a stroke.
No matter what you call it, a TIA is a big red warning flag that indicates you are at major risk for a more serious stroke.
TIA and Stroke: What Happens
A TIA, like an ischemic stroke,is caused by a blood clot blocking an artery and preventing blood flowto an area of the brain. The blockage during a TIA is only temporary,usually causing symptoms for no more than five minutes, and typicallyfor only around a minute, although they may sometimes last longer.
Becauseblood flow to the brain is restored after the TIA, no damage is done,and the person having a TIA doesn't suffer any lasting side effects.During a stroke,the blood supply to the brain is cut off for a significant period oftime, causing damage to brain cells and a number of complications andside effects.
TIA and Stroke: Understand The Connection
Noteveryone who has a stroke will have a TIA to warn them beforehand. Andnot everyone who has a TIA will go on to have a stroke, but many will.More than one-third of those who have at least one TIA will have astroke.
A TIA can't predict when a stroke will occur,however; it only serves as a warning flag of your increased risk of astroke. But that doesn't mean that a TIA doesn't require medicalattention and transient ischemic attack. A stroke can occur any time after a TIA but most often will strike within a year.
TIA and Stroke: Risk Factors
The risk factors for a TIA are similar to those of a stroke and include:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Heart disease,atherosclerosis (clogging or hardening of the arteries), diabetes,sickle cell anemia, sleep apnea, migraine, and artery diseases
- Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, obesity, alcohol abuse, and cigarette smoking
- Family history of stroke or TIA
- Being older than age 55
- Being African-American
Peoplewho have these risk factors should make lifestyle changes that canreduce the risks that can be controlled and also improve overallhealth, thus lowering your risk of TIA.
TIA and Stroke: Symptoms and Warning Signs
Thesymptoms and warning signs that you're having a TIA are similar tothose of a stroke, but remember that a TIA doesn't last as long anddoesn't leave lasting effects. To spot a TIA, look for:
- Speech problems, slurred speech, or difficulty speaking or comprehending
- Paralysis and weakness, which may occur in a leg or arm or in the face, usually on one side of the body
- Vision problems, such as double vision or loss of vision (may be in one eye or both)
- Balance problems, including losing your balance, difficulty walking, and losing coordination
- Headache, which is usually severe and with no known cause
Ifyou have any of these warning signs — even if they go away after just afew minutes — it's likely a TIA. As with symptoms of a possible stroke,you should seek immediate medical evaluation if you notice symptoms ofa possible TIA because you never know how far behind a stroke may be.If you spot and treat a TIA early, you can reduce your risk of having amore serious stroke that could cause significant damage.