Chris DeWald | Mini-strokes/TIA

According to the American Stroke Association, a TIA is a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. TIA is an abbreviation for transient ischemic attack.
These are powerful words to be typing. Recognizing you have had one is the problem. I was told I had a few in the past “before” the major ones took me down for the count. My physicians recognized them but I refused to listen to my own body. Work was more important. There were deadlines, payroll, projects and I needed a paycheck. I had no time for a “Mini Stroke”.

I am now reminded about a line from A Dr. Seuss Story, “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before”. Me being the grinch, it was the warning signs of a full blown stroke. I liked it so much I had two(right and left side) at once.

I am here to tell the readers that The American Stroke Association is correct in the following. Most strokes aren’t preceded by TIAs. However, of the people who’ve had one or more TIAs, more than a third will later have a stroke. In fact, a person who’s had one or more TIAs is more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn’t.

TIAs are important in predicting if a stroke will occur rather than when one will happen. They can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke. In about half the cases, the stroke occurs within one year of the TIA.

 

What causes a transient ischemic attack?

TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn’t get the blood it needs. The symptoms occur rapidly and last a relatively short time. Most TIAs last less than five minutes. The average is about a minute. Unlike stroke, when a TIA is over, there’s no injury to the brain.

 

What are the symptoms of a TIA?

It’s very important to recognize the warning signs of a TIA or stroke. The usual TIA symptoms are the same as those of stroke, only temporary:

– 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

– Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

The short duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the main difference between TIA and stroke.
TIAs are extremely important predictors of stroke. Don’t ignore them! If symptoms appear, CALL 9-1-1 TO GET MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY. A doctor should determine if a TIA or stroke has occurred, or if it’s another medical problem with similar symptoms. Some examples are seizure, fainting, migraine headache, or general medical or cardiac condition. Prompt medical or surgical attention to these symptoms could prevent a fatal or disabling stroke from occurring.

We tend to ignore certain medical indicators because we don’t have time. I did not have time then. I have time now. Loss of job, early retirement, loss of self, loss of physical feelings on half of my body and 8 medications a day is what I could have prevented by listening to my own body. Now I have the “I told you so” screams from my re-arranged self. Don’t be me. You don’t have to be. Medical checkups, good diet and exercise help prevent most TIAs.

If you have had one, listen and do what’s right for you and your family. Strokes are mean, nasty and do not discriminate. Keep a positive attitude and slow down and see that grass is really a beautiful color and that birds make beautiful music. Listen to the music your body is playing.

 

– Column by Chris DeWald


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