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A Ministroke Should Be a Major Concern

A Ministroke Should Be a Major Concern

Don’t let the name fool you. A “ministroke,” or transient ischemic attack (TIA), is a serious medical incident that if recognized and treated early could reduce your risk of having a major stroke later on.

“TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain. Symptoms occur rapidly and last a short time, usually less than 15 minutes,” said Lisa Shultz, MD, chief of neurology at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center and medical director of the Lourdes Stroke Center. “Unlike a stroke, when the TIA is over, there’s no injury to the brain.”

Know the Warning Signs
Symptoms of a TIA–and a stroke–may include sudden:

  • numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs– especially on only one side of the body;
  • confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech;
  • difficulty seeing in one or both eyes;
  • trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;
  • severe headache with no known cause.

Other possible symptoms include changes in sensation, involving touch, pain, temperature or hearing; changes in alertness; mood changes; difficulty swallowing; and difficulty writing or reading.

“A person experiencing any of these symptoms should get emergency help–even if the symptoms disappear,” Dr. Shultz advised. “While TIAs do not lead to permanent brain injury, one in three people who suffers a TIA will have a full-fledged stroke–often within a year and most likely within three months.”

Fortunately, people who’ve had a TIA can help ward off another TIA or a full-scale stroke by making lifestyle changes and getting medical treatment.

Healthy Habits Lower Risk
The same risk factors that put people at risk for a TIA also boost their stroke risk. To improve your chances of avoiding these conditions, Dr. Shultz advises the following steps:

  1. Manage your blood pressure. Nine out of 10 stroke sufferers have high blood pressure. Lower yours by eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, cutting back on high-sodium foods, shedding excess weight and getting plenty of exercise.
  2. Reduce your saturated fat intake. Foods high in saturated fats include many meats and full-fat dairy products.
  3. Control your blood sugar. Diabetes triples your stroke risk. If you have diabetes, be sure to keep your blood sugar within healthy ranges.
  4. If you smoke, break the habit. Smoking doubles stroke risk.

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