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Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is Warning that a Major Stroke May be on the Way

High Blood Pressure is a Major Risk for all Kinds of Strokes (NIA)

Strokes do not always come on without warnings and in fact recognizing a major early warning sign of an impending major stroke can save lives, as treatment can be started to prevent a major stroke from occurring.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) also called a mini stroke has neurological symptoms similar to a beginning major stroke and many are from blood clots like ischemic strokes. A TIA can be a wake-up call that a major stroke is on the way. During a TIA, blood flow to the brain is blocked for  about five minutes. The symptoms usually go away within an hour, but can sometimes last for up to 24 hours. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that more than a third of people who have a TIA and do not get treatment have a major stroke within one year and about 10% to 15% of people will have a major stroke within three months after experiencing a TIA. According to the Stroke Organization, 40% of people who have a TIA will have a major stroke and nearly half of all strokes occur within a few days after experiencing a TIA.

Symptoms of TIA

  • Numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body, in the arm, face or leg.
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech and confusion
  • Vision disturbances in one or both eyes.
  • Difficulty walking and maintaining balance

What to do When Experiencing a TIA

A TIA is a major medical emergency and should be treated no differently than a major stroke. Phone 911 right away if you or a loved one are having neurological signs of a stroke, as there is no way of knowing if this is only a TIA or is in fact a major stroke.

Causes of TIA

  • Reduced blood flow at a narrow part of a major artery like the carotid artery that carries blood to the brain.
  • A blood clot that forms in the heart or some other part of the body breaks off and travels to the brain where it blocks a blood vessel in the brain. When this blood clot forms in the heart it is often due to atrial fibrillation.
  • Narrowing of a smaller blood vessel in the brain due to a buildup of plaque that causes a temporary cut off or reduced blood flow to the brain. This can be a result of coronary artery disease (CAD).

Preventing a Future Stroke

Depending on what caused the TIA, doctors will prescribe the appropriate medicines or treatment to try to prevent a future stroke. These may be blood thinning medicines to dissolve the clot, medicines to treat high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation or heart disease.

If the TIA was due to a blockage in the main carotid artery in the neck that carries blood to the brain endarterectomy surgery and stenting might be necessary to open up this blockage to prevent a future stroke.

Lifestyle Changes

However, lifestyle changes can also do a lot to help stave off a future stroke.

  • Quit smoking. No ifs or buts. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Enroll in a quit smoking program.
  • Limit or stop alcohol consumption. Enroll in a program to quit drinking.
  • Get your blood pressure under control.
  • Get diabetes under control.
  • Eat a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables
  • Eat whole grained cereals or bread
  • Avoid saturated fats
  • Do not eat processed meat
  • Use extra virgin olive oil as your main oil
  • Use whole wheat or whole spelt flour
  • Get enough physical exercise, but do not push yourself to excessive exertion, as this can sometimes lead to an ischemic stroke
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Post Stroke Care

If you or your loved one have suffered a major stroke and are looking for a residential rehab skilled in post stroke care and rehabilitation, the Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center in Brooklyn, New York is well-known for its excellent post stroke rehabilitation. They also have great entertainment and integrated therapy programs that include music therapy and pet therapy.

Brooklyn Hospitals near Ditmas Park Rehab and Care Center

New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)

SUNY Downstate Medical Center – University Hospital of Brooklyn

NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County

Maimonides Medical Center


Never ignore any TIA neurological signs even if they pass away quickly, as they can be a warning that a major stroke is on the way. Getting the right medical treatment in time can often stop a future stroke in its tracks.


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