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Stroke Smart Magazine

March/April 2009

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TIAs: Take Immediate Action
This Mini-Stroke Can Be a Warning Sign

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an event, sometimes called a mini-stroke, that produces stroke symptoms that last less than 24 hours before disappearing. While TIAs generally do not cause permanent brain damage, they are a serious warning sign of stroke and should not be ignored.

What Causes TIA?

TIAs are usually caused by: Low blood flow at a narrow part of a major artery carrying blood to the brain, such as the carotid artery. A blood clot in another part of the body breaks off, travels to the brain and blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Narrowing of the smaller blood vessel in the brain, blocking blood flow for a short period of time; usually caused by plaque (a fatty substance) build up.

What Happens When a TIA Occurs?

Blood vessels carry blood throughout the body. When a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked for a short period of time, the blood flow to that area of the brain slows or even stops. This lack of blood and oxygen quite often lead to temporary symptoms such as slurred speech or blurred vision.

Symptoms of a TIA

The symptoms of a TIA and stroke are basically the same. Someone having a TIA or stroke might experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

If you have any of these symptoms or see them in someone else, even for a short time, call 911 or get to the hospital fast. Treatment can be more helpful if given quickly. Every minute counts!

ManagIng TIA

The goal is to prevent a future stroke. The medicine and therapy used depends on the exact cause of the TIA. In addition to lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, your doctor might recommend:

Drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease. Medicines that help prevent blood clots from forming, reducing the risk of full-blown stroke. Surgeries to open the artery if a TIA is caused by blockage, the main artery in the neck that supplies blood to the brain. These procedures are known as endarterectomy and stenting.

These changes can reduce your risk of further TIA or stroke. Ask your doctor about the best stroke prevention options for you, then take responsibility and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle adjustments you make today might reduce your stroke risk tomorrow.

Introducing a New Site to Learn About TIA

National Stroke Association and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are launching a new educational Web site, Talk About TIA!, to raise awareness about transient ischemic attack (TIA). The site is the first complete, interactive online resource for people to learn about TIA and how to help reduce the risk of stroke. The site includes personal stories from TIA and stroke survivors. Visitors can send e-postcards to share what they learn about TIA and encourage those who might be at risk to speak with their doctors. Visit www.TalkAboutTIA.com today.


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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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