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Transient Ischemic Attack
WHAT YOU NEED TO 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.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have double vision or vision loss.
- You have a severe headache or feel dizzy.
- You are bleeding from your rectum or nose.
Contact your 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.
You may need any of the following:
- Antiplatelets prevent blood clots from forming. Aspirin is an antiplatelet. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Other medicines may be needed 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. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her 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 healthcare provider or neurologist in 1 to 2 days:
You may need more tests to find the cause of your TIA. If you are taking warfarin, you will need regular blood tests. Your INR levels will also need to be 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 for a TIA or stroke. Take your medicine as directed. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions to check your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Keep a record of your blood pressure and blood sugar readings. Bring the record with you to follow-up visits with your healthcare provider.
- Eat a variety of 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.
- Reach or stay at a healthy weight. Weight loss can decrease your blood pressure and your risk for stroke. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh and how to lose weight safely. Ask how often you should exercise and which exercises to do.
- Do not smoke cigarettes or use illegal drugs. Smoking and drugs increase your risk for a stroke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can also cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help 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.
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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.