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Signs of Stroke vs TIA

Let’s discuss the signs of stroke vs TIA.

Question:  I experienced signs of a stroke, but they went away after only a few minutes.  Am I in the clear?

Answer:  No!

What is a TIA?

TIA stands for transient ischemic attack.  Transient means that it only lasts a short time and then goes away quickly.  Ischemic means loss of blood supply.  Quite literally, having a TIA means that the blood supply to the brain is lost temporarily but then is quickly restored.  During the time that the blood flow is lost, the person experiencing a TIA presents with stroke symptoms (click here for a refresher on stroke symptoms).  If it is a TIA, the stroke symptoms typically resolve within only a few minutes.  However they can last for an hour or more.

Because the symptoms don’t last long, people often refer to TIAs as “mini strokes.”  The term seems cute and endearing, but it’s not!

Mini Stroke = Major Warning Sign!!!

Once you’ve had a TIA, your chances of having a full blown stroke are 10 times greater!  If you suspect that you’ve had a TIA, it is vital that you go through the same process that you would in the event of a stroke.  If you’re loved one is showing signs of a TIA, do not allow them to ignore the signs.  Click here to review what to do and what to expect in the event of a stroke or a TIA.


Blessing in disguise?

There is typically no physical or mental impairment left behind after a TIA.  Since there’s no lasting damage, the diagnosis can be a bit of a blessing in disguise.  I say this because when you seek medical care for a TIA, it gives your doctor a chance to test for and educate you on your stroke risk factors.  They may find that you have problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease.  Then they can have a candid conversation with you about factors that can be controlled.  Some of these factors include smoking, obesity, stress, and poor exercise habits.  They may change one or more of your medications in order to prevent a stroke.

Bottom Line:  if you experience stroke symptoms (even if they go away within minutes) seek medical care immediately.

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