According to the American Stroke Association, nearly 240,000 people a year in the United States experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA). About one in three people who have a TIA will eventually have a stroke.
Often called ministrokes, TIAs serve as a warning for future stroke – and provide an opportunity to take steps to prevent one.
Transient ischemic attacks occur when a clot temporarily blocks blood flow to the brain. TIAs don’t cause permanent damage and symptoms usually last less than five minutes – but they are a warning for a potential future stroke. Even if your symptoms go away, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.
Risk factors for TIA are similar to stroke. Although some risk factors you can’t control, others can be managed by making lifestyle changes:
- Older age
- Family history
- Cardiovascular disease
- Sickle cell disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor nutrition
- Heavy alcohol use
Warning signs and symptoms are also similar to stroke and depend on which area of the brain is affected by the clot. Watch for:
- Severe headache
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis on one side of the body
- Slurred or garbled speech or difficulty understanding speech
- Vertigo or loss of balance or coordination
- Blindness in one or both eyes
Remember – although TIA signs and symptoms may only last a few minutes, it’s still important to seek immediate medical attention. Ideally this will include medical assessment within 24 hours of when your symptoms began. Your provider will take your medical history and assess your symptoms, view images of the blood vessels in your head and neck, and may order additional testing such as a head CT, angiography or MRI.
If you are diagnosed with a TIA, your provider will likely recommend following up with a neurologist to assess your risk for future stroke and to determine ways to lower your risk.
Edward-Elmhurst Health providers are available to help you learn more about stroke risk factors and how you can lower your chances for having a stroke. Find out if you’re at risk by taking our free online StrokeAware test or call 630-527-2800 to schedule a stroke and vascular screening. Edward Hospital is certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by DNV GL Healthcare and the Joint Commission has recognized Elmhurst Hospital as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center. Learn more about stroke care at Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals.