Transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs, are brief episodes of stroke symptoms resulting form temporary interruptions of blood flow to the brain. TIAs can last anywhere from a few seconds up to 24 hours. Unlike actual strokes, TIAs do not kill brain cells, and therefore, do not result in permanent brain damage. However, they can be warning signs of an impending stroke.
The symptoms of a TIA are the same as for a stroke:
- Sudden numbness of face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If a person experiences any of these symptoms, for even the briefest amount of time, he or she should seek medical attention immediately.
Urgent response to symptoms is important for two reasons:
- If you are having an actual stroke, emergency medical attention could save your life and greatly improve your chances for successful rehabilitation and recovery.
- If you are having a TIA, your doctor will evaluate and treat the underlying causes. Unfortunately, most people who have TIAs neglect to seek treatment, either because the symptoms are painless or because they choose to attribute their symptoms to old age, fatigue, etc.
Only 42 percent of patients seek treatment within 24 hours of experiencing symptoms.
TIAs should never be ignored! Approximately 10 percent of all strokes are preceded by TIAs. Stroke risk increases ten-fold in someone who has had a TIA. Fully one-third of all persons who experience TIAs will go on to have an actual stroke. The first year after a TIA is an especially critical period.
- 5 percent of those strokes will occur within one month of the TIA or previous stroke
- 12 percent will occur within one year
- 20 percent will occur within two years
- 25 percent will occur within three years
Recognizing Stroke Symptoms
- Stroke is an emergency! When someone experiences any of these systems, it is impossible to tell at first if it's a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). If it is a stroke, immediate medical treatment can save the person's life and greatly enhance chances for successful rehabilitation and recovery. If it's a TIA, the doctor will evaluate the underlying causes and begin preventive measures.
- Even if these symptoms don't cause pain or they go away quickly---call 911 immediately.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness loss of balance or coordination.
Other important but less common stroke symptoms include:
Sudden Nausea, fever and vomiting - distinguished from a viral illness by the speed of onset (minutes or hours vs. several days)
Brief loss of consciousness or period of decreased consciousness (fainting, confusion convulsions or coma)
Team Effort Enhances Therapy
|Read how Charlie Sears' determination helped him recover from a stroke|