What is transient ischemic attack (TIA)?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini stroke can be caused by a momentary disruption in the supply of blood to a region of the brain. The disruption in the supply of blood can result to the diminished level of oxygen to the brain.

Take note that this can result to abrupt symptoms that are strikingly similar to a stroke such as speech and visual disturbance, weakness or numbness in the arms, face and legs. The only difference is that TIA does not last as long as a stroke. The effects often last for a few minutes or hours and eventually resolve within 24 hours.

What are the indications of TIA?

The major symptoms of a transient ischemic attack are the FAST acronym.

  • Face – the face might drop on one side and the individual could not smile or the eye or mouth might have dropped
  • Arms – an individual with a possible stroke might not be able to lift both arms and keep them lifted due to numbness in one arm or arm weakness
  • Speech – it might be garbled or slurred or the individual might not be able to talk despite appearing awake
  • Time – it is time to call for emergency assistance if any of these signs or symptoms are present
    Transient ischemic attack

    An individual with a possible stroke might not be able to lift both arms and keep them lifted due to numbness in one arm or arm weakness.

When to seek further care

During the early stages of a transient ischemic attack, it is not possible to determine whether if the individual has a TIA or full stroke, thus it is vital to call for emergency assistance.

Even if the symptoms vanish while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, proper assessment in the hospital must be carried out.

Always bear in mind that a transient ischemic attack is a warning that the individual is at risk for developing a full stroke in the near future. The assessment can help the doctor determine the ideal way to minimize the chances of this from occurring.

Causes of transient ischemic attacks

During a transient ischemic attack, one of the blood vessels supplying the brain with oxygen-rich blood ends up blocked. Take note that this blockage is typically triggered by a blood clot that formed in another part of the body and travels up to the blood vessels that supplies the brain but can also be triggered by pieces of air bubbles or fatty material. Certain factors that increase the chances of a transient ischemic attack include the following:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Large consumption of alcohol

Treatment of transient ischemic attack

Even though the indications of a transient ischemic attack, treatment is required to prevent another attack or a full stroke from developing in the future. The treatment depends on factors such as the medical history and age of the individual.

Prevention

A transient ischemic attack is often an indication that another will develop and at high risk of developing a full stroke in the near future. There are measures that can reduce the risk of having an attack in the future such as the following:

  • Regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Healthy diet
  • Limit the consumption of alcohol
  • Avoid smoking

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