When blood flow to part of the brain stops for a short period of time, also called transient ischemic attack (TIA), it can mimic stroke-like symptoms. These symptoms appear and last less than 24 hours before disappearing. While TIAs generally do not cause permanent brain damage, they are a serious warning sign that a stroke may happen in the future and should not be ignored.
TIAs are usually caused by one of three things:
- 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 (such as the heart) 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.
Some important facts to keep in mind include:
- 40 percent of people who have a TIA will have an actual stroke
- Nearly half of all strokes occur within the first few days after a TIA
- Symptoms for TIA are the same as for a stroke
Have you had stroke-like symptoms that only lasted temporarily? TIA risk calculator was created to help you understand your risk for stroke or TIAs. Answer the questions and see how you compared to others who have answered the same questions.
The goal of TIA management 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, physical activity, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking, your healthcare provider may recommend medications to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. These changes may reduce your risk of further TIA or stroke.
There are many medications that help prevent blood clots from forming—reducing the risk of full-blown stroke.
If a TIA is caused by blockage in the main artery in the neck that supplies blood to the brain, called the carotid artery, surgeries may be required to open the artery, and prevent a stroke. These procedures are known as endarterectomy and stenting.
Talk to a healthcare provider about the best stroke prevention options for you. Then take responsibility and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. The lifestyle adjustments such as eating healthy foods and quitting smoking—made today may reduce the risk of stroke tomorrow.