STROKE – Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA or mini-stroke), part 2

(If you missed, Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA or mini-stroke), part 1 – you can find it  here.)

TIA is a medical emergency.  Seek immediate medical treatment if you think you or someone else is having a TIA.
 Remember –  Take  Immediate  Action

What happens during a TIA?
You may feel any or all of the symptoms of stroke except they go away within a few minutes or hours. Learn more about the stroke warning signs.
Why is TIA an emergency?
A TIA is a very serious warning sign that says something is wrong with blood flow to your brain.
Calling 9-1-1 or your local emergency number ensures you will get help quickly. Doctors may be able to give you a clot-busting drug that restore blood flow to your brain. However, because the drug is only effective within the first three hours of the onset of symptoms, you must get to the hospital as soon as possible. Do not wait for your symptoms to disappear – call 9-1-1 as quickly as possible. Even if your symptoms do go away, it is important for you to find out what is causing these symptoms. 
A TIA is a serious warning sign that you are at higher risk for having a stroke.
If you have had a TIA, you are at a higher risk for having a stroke. The greatest risk is immediately after the TIA and llasts for up to one year later. The good news about TIA is that it provides a warning about your higher risk and gives you a chance to take action to reduce your risk.
What causes a TIA?
The most common cause of a TIA is a blood clot or plaque that prevents blood from flowing to your brain. Here’s how it happens:
TIA caused by plaque:
TIA caused by a blood clot:
  • Plaque refers to a build-up of cholesterol, fatty deposits and other substances. It gathers inside the wall of an artery and narrows the size of the blood vessel (also called atherosclerosis).
  • This may reduce blood flow to the brain. Plaque can also break off and block arteries to the brain.
  • A blood clot may form in other parts of the body and travel to the brain. Many blood clots travel from the heart to the artery that feeds the brain.
  • If you have atrial fibrillation (a fast, irregular heart rate),problems with your heart valves, a patent foramen ovale (a defect in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart), or a weak heart muscle, you may be at higher risk for a TIA.
You may have other health problems that can cause a TIA. Talk to your healthcare provider about your health and whether you are at higher risk for TIA.
How do doctors know that someone has had a TIA?
It is sometimes difficult for doctors to know if you have had a TIA because the symptoms have usually gone away by the time the doctor sees you. The key to treating a TIA is knowing that a TIA has happened. The doctor may want to perform tests to find out the cause of the TIA. Once the cause is known, you and your healthcare team can work on a plan to prevent future TIAs or strokes. Read more about diagnostic tests.
How can I prevent another TIA? How to manage the main risk factors
The goal of treatment is to prevent you from having another TIA or a stroke. The way to reach this goal is to reduce your risk factors. While some risk factors are beyond your control, you can manage other risk factors by leading a healthy lifestyle, taking prescribed medications or having surgery.
Treatments for TIA
Medications
Doctors may prescribe two main types of medication to treat TIAs – antiplatelets or anticoagulants (blood thinners). They prevent or destroy blood clots and can lower the risk of stroke in people who have had TIAs or previous strokes.
  • Your doctor may also prescribe medication to control your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol. Read more about medications.
When you have been prescribed medication, you must:
  • Take the medication as directed.
  • Report any side effects to your healthcare team right away.
  • Only stop taking the medication after you have talked to your healthcare team.
  • Bring your medication with you in the original bottle each time you visit the clinic or doctor’s office.
If you have any questions about your medication, talk to your healthcare team.
Surgery
  • Sometimes surgery is the best way to prevent a stroke. Your doctor will tell you if this is the right treatment for you. Read more about surgery and other procedures
Over several Wednesdays I will offer information on the following – 

 All information contained in this post was obtained, with permission, from the Heart and Stroke Foundation  website. Please visit their site for more information.

Monica
Disclaimer

The material provided on this site is designed for information and educational purposes only. The materials are not intended to be a self diagnostic and/or self treatment tool. I encourage you to use this information as a tool for discussing your condition with your health practitioner.

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