Slurred speech. Numbness on one side of the body. Confusion. Seems like a stroke, right? However, if those stroke-like symptoms abate rather fast and are rather minor, they may be caused by a TIA (transient ischemic attack). But prior to breathing that sigh of relief and getting back to life as usual, it is crucial to recognize the facts about TIAs and why they ought to always be brought to the attention of a doctor right away.
What Exactly Is a TIA?
TIAs are caused by a blood vessel that is blocked and briefly interferes with the flow of blood to the brain. Symptoms mimic those that occur during a stroke, but resolve quickly and will not cause long-term neurological complications or brain damage. Because of this, many people shrug them off and do not seek medical care.
Why Tell the Physician About a TIA?
Think of a TIA as a critical “check engine” light in your automobile. Though you may perhaps still be able to drive the automobile, ignoring the warning could result in tragedy. Once a TIA has taken place, there is a 10 – 20% risk of stroke within the next 7 days, and a 9 – 17% risk in 90 days.
Also, given that TIA and stroke symptoms are so similar, you can’t tell initially which condition is occurring. Prompt medical attention is crucial in the event of a stroke. The longer left without treatment, the more harm a stroke can cause to the brain, and the more significant and long-lasting the impairments might be.
Chris Streib, MD, Neurologist at M Health Fairview, points out, “In some ways, people who have a TIA are actually very fortunate. It’s a warning that they are at high risk of a stroke that could cause permanent deficits. They have a chance to make immediate lifestyle and medication change to reduce their risk of an actual stroke.”
Take the Following Steps if You Suspect a TIA
If you observe the signs below that could suggest either a TIA or stroke, call 911 instantly. A trip to the emergency room can allow for imaging and further tests to look at the brain and blood vessels, identify the cause of the event, and then start a treatment plan. Treatment for TIA differs from that of a stroke, so getting a correct diagnosis as quickly as possible is key.
The newest guidelines to check for TIA or stroke signs follow the acronym BE FAST:
- B: Is the person having trouble standing up?
- E: Is the person having vision problems?
- F: Is one side of the person’s face drooping?
- A: Is the person experiencing weakness or numbness in one arm?
- S: Is the person having trouble speaking, or are words slurred?
- T: Call 911 immediately, and note the time the symptoms started.
Home Care Will Help!
- Monitoring for changes in condition and arranging for immediate emergency medical treatment if any concerning signs are observed
- Offering transportation to medical appointments and procedures
- Making sure that recommended lifestyle changes are implemented by preparing healthy meals, motivation for recommended exercise plans, etc.
- Providing medication reminders so meds are taken precisely as the physician has directed
- And much more