TIA stands for transient ischemic attack. It differs from an ischemic attack because it generally is an event that doesn’t cause permanent brain damage. It’s like a wind before a tornado, a signal that something may be coming, so be aware. Although transient ischemic attacks only last a few minutes, one-third of the people who have them will have an acute stroke eventually afterwards. It is impossible to tell whether a person is having a TIA or an acute stroke emergency so don’t wait to see how long the symptoms last. Get emergency assistance pronto.

Symptoms of TIA
The symptoms are the same as (ischemic) stroke symptoms. They are:

  • severe headache, no cause
  • trouble walking, dizzy, loss of coordination
  • trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • numbness or weakness in face, arm, leg, or one side of body
  • confusion, and /or trouble speaking or walking.

These symptoms do mimic a serious stroke, a possible massive stroke, and treatment should be sought immediately. In a regular stroke the brain is damaged because of a clot or narrowing of blood vessels so the brain doesn’t get oxygen and food. With a TIA, the blockage resolves itself, and no permanent damage is done. Usually normal circumstances are restored within 24 hours. However the warning TIA should be heeded, and underlying risk factors known and treated.

“The majority of TIA’s are associated with atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaques in the walls of the arteries. A TIA may develop when a plaque becomes substantial enough to reduce blood supply locally in an artery supplying the brain. More commonly, however, a TIA occurs when a small fragment of a plaque that has broken off from a blood vessel, or a blood clot (embolus), usually from the heart, travels to an artery supplying the brain and lodges in a site already narrowed by atherosclerosis.” (Johns Hopkins Symptoms and Remedies, pg 675)

Eating a high fat diet increases cholesterol and the chances of clogged arteries. There are suggested ways to decrease cholesterol in your diet to help prevent strokes. They are; to eat fish regularly (the fish oil reduces fat levels and helps the blood clot slower), take niacin daily (found to be effective in fighting cholesterol), take vitamin C to reduce cholesterol or include foods high in vitamin C, take lecithin (available granular, or capsule), and to eat beans (any) are believed to inhibit cholesterol absorption in the body.

Two Successful Treatments
Half the patients in a recent study (CREST), had TIA’s putting them at risk for ischemic stroke. The study was about the effectiveness of carotid endarterectomy (CEA), and carotid artery stenting (CAS). Cea is a surgical procedure to clear blocked blood flow. CAS is a less invasive procedure involving threading a stent and expanding a small protective device to widen the blocked artery and capture dislodged plaque. They both showed excellent safety results and a lower risk of recurrent stroke. You can read about it at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke online site.

Heart health awareness is so important that whatever you know, stay up on the mild stroke symptoms to stroke rehab, as it may save your life, or someone you love.