A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary change in nerve function brought on by an interruption in blood flow to part of the spinal cord or brain. TIAs are frequently referred to as “mini-strokes” due to some overlap in symptoms. During a TIA, a person may experience temporary disruptions in speech, vision, or movement. These symptoms typically last less than 24 hours and do not result in permanent damage. Although this medical emergency is a transient event, it can serve as an important warning sign that enables timely interventions to prevent a future stroke.
What Are the Causes of a Transient Ischemic Attack?
Because a transient ischemic attack is brought on by a disruption to blood flow, the following causes can be at the root of a TIA:
- A blood clot in an artery of the brain
- An injury to blood vessels
- Narrowing of a blood vessel in the brain
- A blood clot that moves to the brain from somewhere else in the body
A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can help reduce the risk of conditions that can lead to a TIA, such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Additionally, managing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and carotid artery disease can also lower the risk of a TIA.
What Are the Symptoms of a TIA?
Because different parts of the brain are responsible for different tasks, the symptoms of a TIA depend on which part of the brain is affected. Sudden muscle weakness, speech changes, and changes in vision in one or both eyes are common warning signs of a transient ischemic attack.
A helpful way to remember TIA symptoms is with the phrase BE FAST, which stands for: Balance lost, Eyesight loss (vision), Face asymmetry, Arm weakness, Speech and Time. A change in any one of these areas are possible warning sign of a transient ischemic attack.
Other symptoms of a TIA may be less noticeable and easier to attribute to other things, they may include: dizziness, double vision, numbness or sensory changes like tingling in the extremities.
Treatment After a TIA
It is common practice to be admitted to the hospital for observation following a transient ischemic attack. Your doctor will likely evaluate you for contributing conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and blood disorders. After a TIA, you may receive blood thinners or require surgery, and if it’s found that you have an irregular heartbeat, you will be treated to avoid future complications. You will be encouraged to make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of further symptoms. Changes include quitting smoking, exercising more and eating healthier foods.
Adults over the age of 55 are more prone to this type of medical emergency. It is crucial to remain aware of the symptoms of these attacks, and if you or a family member are at risk, have someone close by who can act and is medically trained.
You may want to consider looking into nearby senior living communities that offer higher levels of care, such as assisted living. Located in Houston, Texas, The Buckingham holds a trusted reputation amongst the community for their dedication to residents’ care. With 24/7 registered nurses on-site and emergency call services, healthcare professionals are readily available if a health crisis were to arise.
It is important to pay attention to any warning signs associated with a TIA. If you think you might be having one, call 911, or reach out to your healthcare provider immediately. Knowing the causes and warning signs of a transient ischemic attack can prove to be a lifesaving part of your health approach.