A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is sometimes referred to as a “mini-stroke.” While symptoms of a TIA are similar to those of a stroke, they are brief and cause no permanent damage. However, about 1 in 3 people who have a TIA go on to have a stroke, and 1 in 6 have a stroke within a year of the TIA occurrence. The good news is that taking preventive measures after you have a transient ischemic attack can help protect you from a future stroke.
Symptoms of a TIA
As with a stroke, those experiencing a transient ischemic attack will display weakness, numbness, or paralysis on one side of the body, slurred speech or difficulty speaking and understanding, vision problems and dizziness or trouble with mobility. Unlike a stroke, though, transient ischemic attack symptoms usually disappear within an hour. However, if you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. A TIA is indistinguishable from a stroke at onset, and getting stroke care right away can prevent serious brain damage.
Causes of a TIA
With a transient ischemic attack, the blood supply to the brain is blocked by plaque or a blood clot. When the blockage clears, symptoms abate. Most TIAs are caused by atherosclerosis, an underlying condition in which the arteries are narrowed with cholesterol and fatty deposits, decreasing blood flow to the brain.
TIAs are more common among those older than age 55, people with a family or personal history of stroke or TIA, African Americans, those who are overweight or obese, people who smoke, lead a sedentary lifestyle, drink excessively or use birth control pills and those with sickle cell disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, carotid or peripheral artery disease or diabetes.
In most cases, it will be clear to our specialists that a transient ischemic attack has occurred because stroke symptoms resolve. We can perform tests to help determine the underlying cause of the event. Treatment focuses on decreasing the likelihood of a future stroke. In some cases, surgery to clear blocked arteries may be required.
Healthy lifestyle changes can also help decrease your risk for having a stroke after experiencing a TIA. These include losing weight if you are overweight, eating a nutritious diet, getting enough exercise, limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking and controlling underlying conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
During a consultation at Peripheral Vascular Associates, you can get all the facts about transient ischemic attack causes, symptoms and treatment options. We have five offices in San Antonio. Contact us today to book your appointment.