What Are Mini-Strokes? What Should You Do if You Get One?

December 21, 2021
What Are Mini-Strokes? What Should You Do if You Get One?

A mini stroke, also referred to as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), is defined as a brief stroke-like attack that, despite resolving within minutes to hours, still requires immediate medical attention to distinguish from an actual stroke. Research has found that an estimated 1 in 3 people who suffer from mini strokes go on to experience a full stroke within 48 hours. A full stroke is a condition that causes a severe disruption in blood flow to the brain, damages brain cells, and can be deadly. We can't stress enough how important it is to seek medical attention as quickly as possibly after suffering a mini stroke because time is of the essence in warding off the full stroke that’s very likely to come afterwards. 

BE FAST

Knowing how to identify and decipher the warning signs of a mini stroke can be the difference between life and death. A popular acronym that the National Stroke Association uses to help people remember what to look for and what action to take in the event of a stroke is BE FAST.

B is for Balance. Sudden loss of balance or coordination.

E is for Eyes. Sudden blurred, double, or loss of vision. 

F is for Face. One side of the face is drooping.

A is for Arms. Weakness in the arm or leg on one side of the body.

S is for Speech. Slurred speech, inability to speak, or difficulty to understand.

T is for Time. If any of these signs are present, it’s time to call 911 immediately. 

While BE FAST is a great mnemonic device to help detect and enhance responsiveness to a person experiencing a stroke, there are a few other symptoms in addition to these that you can be on the lookout for if you think you might be witnessing a stroke event. They include:

1. Headaches that come on quickly and are localized. Oftentimes, the area affected by the headache is directly related to where the stroke occurs. 65% of people that undergo a stroke report a stroke-related headache. 

2. Fainting, also called syncope episodes, are rare but can be indicative of a stroke or TIA if certain blood vessels at the base of the brain are involved. 

3. Hiccups that last longer than 48 hours, are painful, and/or accompanied by chest pain can be an often overlooked symptom of stroke or mini stroke. 

Causes 

An ischemic stroke happens when a clot blocks the blood supply to part of your brain. In a mini stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA), the blockage is brief and then resolved. Because the originals of the mini stroke and a full stroke are the same, it’s very important to seek medical attention right away. 

The underlying cause of a TIA is typically a buildup of cholesterol-containing fatty deposits called plaques in an artery or one of its branches that supplies oxygen and nutrients to your brain. The plaques can hinder proper blood flow through an artery and lead to a clot. 

The aftermath of a stroke can be life altering. There is usually a long rehabilitation process and oftentimes, depending on different factors like age and the severity of the stroke, the recovery time can be complex and extensive. In the weeks to months after experiencing a stroke, common lingering symptoms include the following

  • Cognitive issues (memory)
  • Speech difficulties
  • Muscle weakness, partial paralysis 
  • Dysphasia (difficulty swallowing) which can lead to diet and nutrition issues 
  • Emotional issues (depression)
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disorders 

SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION 

After a mini stroke, your doctor will do extensive vital exams and blood work to determine your risk factor for a stroke. The battery of tests include blood pressure checks, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. They will also perform tests to check the integrity of your vessels and heart. If you are quick to seek medical attention after a mini stroke, you can lower your risk of suffering a full stroke by 80% through medication and basic lifestyle changes. 

BASS Medical Group 

At BASS Medical Group, our mission is to create a personal & seamless healthcare experience for our patients. We value integrity, accountability, growth, and courtesy when it comes to how we treat our patients and operate our administration functions. We have an exceptional team of neurology specialists here to help stroke patients with education, screenings and preventative care, medication, and surgery. To learn more about how we can help, visit us at https://www.bassmedicalgroup.com/