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Transient Ischemic Attack, Ambulatory Care

A transient ischemic attack

(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 that you are about to have an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis
  • Trouble walking, swallowing, talking, or understanding language
  • Blurry or double vision

How can I tell if someone is having a stroke?

Know the F.A.S.T. 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.

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Double vision or vision loss
  • Confusion and problems speaking or understanding speech
  • Weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face
  • Severe headache or feeling dizzy
  • Bleeding from your rectum or nose

Treatment for a TIA

may include any of the following:

  • Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. 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.
  • Thrombolytics help break apart blood clots.
  • Surgery may be needed to open a blocked artery.

Manage and prevent TIA:

  • Manage health conditions. High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol all increase your risk of a TIA or stroke. Take your medicine as directed. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions to check your blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Write the numbers down to show him.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Weight loss can decrease your blood pressure and your risk of stroke.
  • 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 stroke increases if you use drugs such as cocaine, or you smoke cigarettes. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you are having trouble quitting.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

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