Features February 2009 Issue

Know the Signs of a Mini-Stroke

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) can mean that you have an increased chance of having a full-fledged stroke, but there are steps you can take.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or "mini-stroke," occurs when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery and blood flow to the brain is restricted. Symptoms of a TIA can occur rapidly and last for a short period of time (usually less than one hour). Fortunately, TIAs do not cause lasting damage to the brain, but they could be a warning that you may have a stroke in the future. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 33 percent of the approximately 50,000 people who have mini-strokes every year will later have a more severe stroke. "The difference between a stroke and a TIA is based on the duration of the patientís symptoms," says Leslie Cho, MD, FACC, editor-in-chief of Heart Advisor. Symptoms of both conditions can include numbness or weakness of the face or extremities, confusion, sudden vision loss, and dizziness. Researchers have identified three bedside clinical features that should help distinguish between TIAs and other disorders with similar symptoms. The features include: speed of onset; vague symptoms; and a history of similar events that were not shown to be TIAs. If you think youíve experienced a TIA, itís important to seek medical treatment immediately. A doctor can assess your symptoms and determine if a TIA or stroke has occurred or if the symptoms were caused by something else such as a seizure, migraine headache, or a problem involving the heart or the brain.

To continue reading this article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to Heart Advisor

Get the next year of HEART ADVISOR for just $20. That's a savings of $19 off the regular rate.

With your paid subscription you will receive unlimited access to all of our online content. That is over a decade of previous issues from Cleveland Clinic, the hospital rated #1 in cardiac care by U.S. News & World Report - free of charge.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.