stroke

A mini stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA) happens to thousands of Americans every year and research is indicating that it can be a warning sign that a serious stroke is on the way. Up to 20 percent of people who have a mini stroke will go on to have a major stroke in the next three months. Unfortunately, many people do not seek medical attention after TIS and end up suffering a stroke before they are seen by a doctor.

Brain Ischemia Defined

Ischemia occurs when the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen when blood vessels that would normally carry these entities become blocked by blood clots or cholesterol plaques. Neurons in ischemic areas starve and stop functioning.

What is a Mini Stroke or TIA?

A mini stroke or TIA is a brief time when there is a lack of blood flow to an area of the brain. The function of brain cells is then impaired which causes the victim to develop symptoms of brain function impairment, such as difficulty speaking or moving the arm and leg on one side of their body. A person suffering a mini stroke will experience stroke symptoms that last from a few minutes to a few hours, but by definition they go away in less than 24 hours.

What are the symptoms of a mini stroke?

Mini strokes most often affect parts of the brain that control movement and feeling in the face, arm, and leg. They may also affect the ability to understand and produce speech.

The most common symptoms of a mini stroke:

  • Weakness and/or numbness in the face, and/or the arm, and/or the leg muscles on one side of body
  • Inability to understand spoken language
  • Inability to speak
  • Unexplained dizziness or vertigo
  • Loss of vision in one eye
  • Double or blurry vision

What is the difference between a mini stroke and a stroke?

By its current definition, the difference between a mini stroke/TIA and a stroke are that symptoms of a mini stroke disappear within 24 hours and those of a stroke are long-lasting physical impairments. This definition could change, however, as research is showing that the brain of a person who suffered a mini stroke looks the same as the brain of a person who suffered a stroke. In other words, although the physical symptoms disappear, a mini stroke may still produce long-term damage to the brain.

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