Mini Strokes - Transient Ischemic Attack

A mini stroke is the common term for a transient ischemic attack. Mini strokes have a sudden onset and symptoms disappear within 24 hours.

­This can be problematic for people who experience a mini stroke since they often do not seek medical attention once the symptoms subside. People who have a mini stroke (also TIA Transient Ischemic Attack) frequently have a stroke later on. As many as 30% of people who experience mini stroke have a stroke within one year. It is important to know the symptoms of mini strokes and to seek medical attention if one occurs so that steps can be taken to prevent a stroke from occurring later.

A stroke occurs when blood flow in the brain is interrupted. This can occur because of a blockage such as a blood clot, or even because a blood vessel breaks. When blood flow is interrupted, the brain cannot get the oxygen it needs, and brain cells quickly begin to die. The effects of strokes are long-term, and most people experience some kind of permanent damage following a stroke. The nature of the damage to the brain depends on which area of the brain is affected. The problems that cause mini strokes to occur are temporary. Effects of mini strokes are typically short-lived. Mini strokes often occur when plaques, which are cholesterol buildups in the arteries, break off and form a temporary blockage in the blood vessels of the brain. This only causes oxygen deprivation for a short time in the brain, and mass cell death does not occur.

The symptoms of strokes and mini strokes are similar. People experiencing a mini stroke may not be able to control the muscles in part of their face and may feel weakness or numbness in their body, particularly in their arms. Dizziness and intense headache is common. They may have trouble slurring their words or understanding what others say to them. The acronym FAST helps identify a mini stroke or stroke. FAST stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. Facial symptoms like paralysis or drooping in the eyes or mouth, weakness or numbness in the arms or slurred or garbled speech all indicate that it is time to seek emergency medical care. Certain people are more likely to experience mini strokes and strokes. The elderly have the highest risk of experiencing stroke or mini stroke. People with diabetes or cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol are also at risk. It is especially important to take stroke-like symptoms seriously in people at higher risk for stroke.

Since mini strokes do not have permanent effects on the brain, they can often be seen as a warning that someone is susceptible to a stroke. Seeking medical attention following a mini stroke can help avert a stroke and the permanent, debilitating effects it can cause.­

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