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Mild Stroke Symptoms: Or A TIA?

Mild stroke symptoms may be confused with a TIA. A mild to severe headache may be associated with a stroke. Other neurological symptoms are usually present also.

A TIA or transient ischemic attack, is caused by a brief interruption in the flow of blood to the brain. It can have identical symptoms to a stroke. The difference is the sypmtoms usually last about one hour and then are fully reversible. Sometimes they can last up to 24 hours but this is not as common as a shorter duration. Also, there is no brain damage with TIA's.

Because of the mild stroke symptoms, TIA's are also called "mini-strokes" by doctors. This is a bit confusing to some patients, as a stroke means actual damage has occurred.

The danger with TIA's is that they are generally considered a precursor to a CVA. People may have only one or several of these attacks before "the big one" hits.

Symptoms Of A Mini Stroke or TIA

Many people describe a darkening to vision like a veil is being drawn over the eyes. This is due to narrowing of the retinal artery during a TIA. Some will describe blurry vision.

Other complaints include:

  • lack of coordination
  • dizziness
  • slurred speech
  • generalized weakness
  • a sense of confusion

Treatment

transient ischemic attack, tia

First of all, if you have never had these symptoms before, you need to see a doctor immediately. If this means going to the emergency room, then go. A full exam will be done in addition to a possible CT of the brain to rule out a stroke. If there is no sign of a bleed or of any brain damage then stroke is ruled out. The diagnosis of TIA is made if all your symptoms go away and you return to how you felt before it all happened. This is called "returning to baseline".

The best treatment for mild stroke symptoms that are diagnosed as TIA's is prevention of further problems. This may involve lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, lowering cholesterol and keeping blood pressure under control.

If you are having TIA's or mild stroke symptoms, your doctor may also recommend starting aspirin as a blood thinner. This will help prevent the formation of blood clots which adhere to cholesteral plaques in arteries, thereby narrowing them and resulting in TIA's. Most of the time, patients are started on aspirin, but if you have an allergy to this you may be put on Plavix (clopidrogrel).

Cautions

If you are going to be put on a blood thinner of any sort there are a few things you should know. First of all, the most common side effect of any of these types of drugs is bruising. With aspiring and coumadin, it is more of a superficial bruising. Plavix, however, can cause a deeper type of bruising which occurs in the muscles.

Aspirin and any of the NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) have the potential to irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines. This can cause nausea, gastritis and eventually, if severe, an ulcer. The risk from bleeding from an ulcer is higher if you continue to take the aspirin.

Do not combine Plavix or aspirin with other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxyn or even prescrition anti-inflammatories as this may increase your risk of bleeding.

Although mild stroke symptoms can be frightening, first of all you must get a diagnosis. A proper diagnosis will direct treatment and hopefully, with compliance, you can avoid having a full blown stroke.


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