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Stroke Education
The Stroke Network


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A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or mini stroke, is caused by a temporary state of reduced blood flow in a portion of the brain. This is most frequently caused by tiny blood clots that temporarily occlude a portion of the brain. A primary blood supply to the brain is through two arteries in the neck (the carotid arteries) that branch off within the brain to multiple arteries that supply specific areas of the brain. During a TIA, the temporary disturbance of blood supply to an area of the brain results in a sudden, brief decrease in brain function

Many people will experience mini strokes and not even know it. Symptoms are often ignored, because they go away. Many symptoms may appear with a mini stroke. You may experience only a few or all the symptoms can be involved. If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

You may have dizziness that comes on suddenly and is persistent. You may even experience nausea. This is one of the most common signs of a mini stroke.

You may have different forms of double vision. These include seeing double when looking around or seeing trails behind any movement.

Many people get headaches. Although this is true, a headache brought on by a stroke is very severe. If you experience a severe headache with unusual pain and symptoms, do not ignore this. This is especially true if you don¨t have a prior history of severe headaches such as migraines.

Sudden weakness can be experienced on half of the body, the whole body, or one very specific area. Speech problems may accompany the weakness or be separate. Speech may be incoherent to others, or you may not be able to speak at all.

Many people experience an onset of sudden confusion. All of a sudden, nothing may make sense. Time and space become difficult to understand. You may not be able to understand what other people are saying to you.

We all have minor episodes of forgetfulness. We may forget where our keys are, or that we had a doctor¨s appointment that slipped our mind. This is nothing to worry about. If you suddenly forget what you are doing, or cannot figure out your location or surroundings, you need to get medical attention right away. You may wonder how you ended up in your current location. Other diseases can cause confusion. It is also a sign of possible mini stroke.

People often dismiss these symptoms because they only last a few minutes. This does not mean that you did not have a mini stroke or that there is nothing to worry about. If symptoms get worse or continue, you could be having a massive stroke.

A mini stroke can cause unconsciousness. A massive stroke will often leave people unconscious. If you are at risk, make sure all of your loved ones know the signs. You may not be able to tell them you feel that you are having a stroke. The signs may not be obvious to your loved ones if you remain conscious.

If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of a mini stroke, get immediate medical attention. A mini stroke often passes, but can lead to a more massive stroke if left untreated. This can mean the difference between being able to function throughout your normal life, or experiencing permanent damage or death. Mini strokes may sound less serious, but in reality, they are not.

 


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All rights reserved.
Original date 3/1/96 Revised 11/24/08
 

 

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