Introduction to transient ischemic strokes
Their acronym, TIA, commonly refers to transient ischemic attack or stroke. A transient ischemic stroke is a stroke that only lasts for a brief duration, typically an hour or less. Despite its name, this type of stroke can have lasting effects on the patient’s life if not treated properly.
When blood flow to part of the brain stops, this causes a transient ischemic stroke. The symptoms of a typical TIA are the same as those of a traditional stroke, but they only last for about 24 hours or less. However, this brief period can still cause damage to the patient’s body and put their life at risk if not treated properly.
A transient ischemic stroke is often referred to as a “mini-stroke” because of its similarities with a traditional Stroke. Symptoms include numbness in the arms or legs, trouble speaking, and confusion.
Patients who have had transient ischemic strokes may not even notice that one has occurred. The reason is that the symptoms are often very subtle or bearable, making it easy for a patient to ignore them. Additionally, many patients may mistake the symptoms as stress-related and avoid thinking about them altogether.
Definition of a TIA
A transient ischemic stroke’s best definition is a temporary block of blood flow to the brain. It usually occurs when an artery in your neck has become blocked by a clot. This blockage cuts the supply of oxygenated blood to part of your brain.
A TIA does not last for exceedingly long. The symptoms are often temporary, and they disappear within hours. However, the effects of a TIA are still very severe. Even though a TIA may only last for an hour or less, this can still cause damage to your brain cells. If this blockage in blood flow occurs more than once, you are at risk of having a full-blown stroke, which may be fatal.
How is a TIA Diagnosed?
Several tests help to diagnose a transient ischemic stroke. One of the most effective ways to interpret a TIA is through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This test can take detailed images of your brain that show any abnormalities. It can also distinguish between an actual stroke and a TIA.
Another way to detect a transient ischemic stroke is through a blood test. Doctors may suspect that you have had a TIA if your blood tests return positive for troponin, an enzyme found in the heart.
This test can help doctors determine whether there are any problems with your cardiovascular system. If you do not have elevated levels of this enzyme in your blood, then you may have had a TIA and not a heart attack.
How Do TIAs affect the Body?
The effect of a transient stroke on the Body depends on how long it lasts. Most patients fully recover within days if the blood flow blockage lasts less than one hour. However, if it lasts for longer than that, there could be permanent damage to some parts of the brain, which can cause some nerve damage.
A TIA can also cause the body to go into shock, a life-threatening condition. The blood flows typically in patients who do not have any form of brain damage, so going into shock after a TIA is very uncommon.
However, suppose you have experienced a traditional stroke or another medical condition that requires surgery. In that case, you may be more likely to go into shock because your body is dealing with several different medical issues at once.
When does a TIA lead to a Full-Blown Stroke?
Many patients who have had transient ischemic strokes may not even notice that one has occurred. Not being aware that a stroke took place is because the symptoms are often very subtle or bearable, making it easy for a patient to ignore them. Additionally, many patients may mistake the symptoms as stress-related and avoid thinking about them altogether.
However, if you suspect that you have had a TIA, you must visit your doctor immediately. You will be sent into surgery right away so that doctors can remove the blood clot that is causing the problem. If left untreated, then a TIA can lead to a full-blown stroke which can cause lasting brain damage or even death.
Transient Ischemic Stroke Symptoms
These are some of the symptoms of a TIA:
Numbness in your face, arm or leg Blurred vision
Loss of balance or coordination
Confusion or trouble speaking
Dizziness or loss of consciousness
Headache that is severe and unrelenting
What are the Risk Factors Associated with a Transient Ischemic Stroke?
Risk factors for a TIA include:
– Being over the age of sixty
– Being male
– Having high blood pressure
– Having a history of smoking
– Having diabetes or heart disease
How Can Transient Ischemic Strokes be Treated?
A transient ischemic stroke treatment involves dissolving the blood clot blocking your brain’s blood vessels. There are two ways to administer this treatment: medication or performing surgery. However, doctors typically choose to perform surgery because it is more efficient and less traumatic.
If you are diagnosed with a TIA, doctors will want to watch your condition over the next few weeks by giving you tests like MRI, CT scans, or ultrasounds.
Doctors may also prescribe medication to treat any underlying conditions which may have caused the stroke in the first place. Often, these medications will lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of further strokes in the future.
Prevention for Transient Ischemic Stroke or TIA
The best way to prevent a transient ischemic stroke from occurring again is by taking care of your cardiovascular system. By giving your body everything, it needs to function as smoothly as possible, and by having no untreated underlying conditions.
To do this, you must have a heart-healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking. It would help if you also spoke with your doctor about other preventative measures like taking aspirin or blood-thinning medication.
Transient Ischemic Stroke Conclusion
Transient ischemic strokes are a widespread type of stroke that occurs from a temporary blockage to the brain’s blood supply, but they are much less severe than standard strokes and do not cause lasting brain damage. Luckily, recovery is possible by dissolving the blood clot causing the problem. If you are diagnosed with a transient ischemic stroke, you must take care of your cardiovascular health to prevent further incidents.
Mayo Clinic article on stroke symptoms and causes.
Johns Hopkins Medicine on the different types of strokes.
About the Author
Sybille Bergin PT is a certified physiotherapist and one of the owners of Bergin Motion. Bergin Motion is a family-run Barrie Physiotherapy Clinic located in Barrie’s Southend. Sybille has been providing in-home physiotherapy for over 30 years. She specializes in treating acquired brain injuries, stroke recovery, and other related ailments. Sybille is a certified NDT practitioner. Neuro Development Therapy is a specialized hands-on treatment technique that promotes mobility, balance, core strength, and gross motor skills in a playful, fun, and dynamic way. Sybille leads a team of dedicated professionals providing first-class therapy at Bergin Motion to Barrie Ontario and surrounding areas.
About Bergin Motion
Bergin Motion is a Barrie Physiotherapy Clinic. Bergin Motion offers physiotherapy in Barrie to clients with a wide range of conditions. The clinic in Barrie specializes in orthopedic, neurological, and pelvic health disciplines. Bergin Motion treats clients both at their clinic and in the comfort of their own home if they cannot travel to the clinic. Located in the south end of Barrie, Ontario, the physio clinic boasts 9000 sq. ft., with seven treatment rooms and a fully equipped gym.