Transient Ischemic Attack, or mini stroke, is becoming more and more common. Learn what it is and how you can try to prevent it.

Strokes are medical emergencies and if you experience any symptoms that you suspect might be related to a stroke it is important to get medical treatment immediately. Often times, the medical treatment may show what is nicknamed a “mini stroke” or Transient Ischemic Attack.  Just because it is a deemed a mini version of a stroke does not mean it is less of a danger to you. Understanding the differences between these two types of emergencies is important to your overall health.

Why a Transient Ischemic Attack is called a Mini Stroke

If you have experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) it is like a warning sign because you are at a greater risk for a true stroke in the future. The Mayo Clinic reports that one of every three people who experience TIA will have a normal stroke in the future and half of those are within 12 months after the first mini stroke. TIAs are viewed as a “mini” version of a stroke because the symptoms are the same as a true stroke, but they do not last long-term. Symptoms of a TIA, as reported by WebMD, include sudden changes in vision, sudden numbness or tingling in your face, arms or legs though usually only on one side of your body, sudden confusion or inability to understand others when they speak, sudden problems speaking, sudden problems walking, and finally an extremely intense headache that is unlike any other you have ever experienced. These symptoms are the same as those of a true stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is impossible to know whether you are experiencing a stroke or a TIA without medical help so it is a time to call 911. If you have experienced these symptoms in the past and not gotten treatment because they went away you should still report this to your primary care physician as they can do diagnostic tests after the incident that can help give a specific diagnosis.

How Do Transient Ischemic Attacks Happen?

Changes to the normal blood flow to the brain lead to TIAs. Usually, the reason for the decrease in the normal blood flow is due to either a full or a partial blockage of blood flow caused by a clot. Blood clots have many causes including hardening of the arteries and heart attacks. Because heart disease is often undiagnosed, you may be at risk for blood clots and not know. The part of the brain that is affected by the lack of blood flow determines which of the many mini stroke symptoms you will have.

Ways to Avoid a Mini Stroke

The contributing factors to TIAs are health issues you have probably heard before, because healthy living can help you avoid both regular and mini strokes. These health recommendations include keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet that is good for your heart including foods that have omega fatty acids, exercising regularly, taking medications as directed by your doctor, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels if you are diabetic. Other important lifestyle changes include smoking cessation and using little to no alcohol. If you use hormones, including those in common birth control, they can also increase your risk of stroke and TIA. If any of these issues is a concern for you, it is important to speak directly with your physician who can decide the best steps to take for your own personal health.