Transient Ischemic Attack
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is also called a mini-stroke. A TIA happens when blood cannot flow to part of your brain. A TIA lasts a short time, and the effects are gone in less than 24 hours. A TIA does not cause lasting damage, but it may be a warning sign before an ischemic stroke occurs. An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked, usually by a blood clot.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Antiplatelets: These prevent blood clots from forming. Aspirin is an antiplatelet. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than directed.
- Anticoagulants: You may need to take an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots. Anticoagulants prevent blood clots by thinning the blood. Warfarin is an anticoagulant. Take your medicine exactly as directed. Tell your primary healthcare provider if you forgot to take it, or if you took too much. Anticoagulants may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric shaver. Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you take an anticoagulant. Tell all caregivers, including your dentist, that you take this medicine.
- Other medicines: You may need medicine to treat diabetes, depression, high cholesterol, or blood pressure problems. You may also need medicine to decrease the pressure in your brain, reduce pain, or prevent seizures.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or neurologist in 1 to 2 days:
If you are taking warfarin, you will need regular blood tests. You will also need your INR level checked. These tests help make sure you are taking the right amount of warfarin. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Prevent another TIA or a stroke:
- Manage health conditions: High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol all increase your risk of stroke. Take your medicines as directed. Do not stop taking these medicines. Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions to check your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Write the numbers down to show him.
- Eat healthy foods: The foods you eat can help prevent or manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Eat foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Include food that are high in potassium, such as potatoes and bananas. If you take warfarin, it works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K each day. Vitamin K is found mainly in leafy green vegetables. Ask your primary healthcare provider for a list of other foods that contain vitamin K.
- Reach or stay at a healthy weight: Weight loss can decrease your blood pressure and your risk of stroke. Ask your primary healthcare provider how much you should weigh and how to lose weight safely. Get 30 minutes of exercise each day. Ask which exercises you should do. You will need to exercise carefully after a stroke so you do not fall.
- Limit alcohol: Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink per day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
- Do not use street drugs or smoke cigarettes: Your risk of a TIA or stroke increases if you use drugs such as cocaine, or you smoke cigarettes. Ask your primary healthcare provider for help if you are having trouble quitting.
Know the FAST test to recognize the signs of a stroke:
- F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Drooping on 1 side of the mouth or face is a sign of a stroke.
- A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. One arm that slowly comes back down or cannot be raised is a sign of a stroke.
- S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence that you say first. Speech that is slurred or sounds strange is a sign of a stroke.
- T = Time: Call 911 if you see any of these signs. This is an emergency.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or neurologist if:
- Your blood pressure is higher or lower than you were told it should be.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have double vision or vision loss.
- You are confused and have problems speaking or understanding speech.
- You have weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face.
- You have a severe headache or feel dizzy.
- You are bleeding from your rectum or nose.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.