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Transient Ischemic Attack

AMBULATORY CARE:

A transient ischemic attack (TIA)

, or mini-stroke, happens when blood cannot flow to part of the brain. A TIA only lasts minutes to hours and does not cause lasting damage. It is still important to get immediate medical care. A TIA 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.

Ischemic Stroke

Warning signs of a stroke:

The word F.A.S.T. can help you remember and recognize warning signs of a stroke.

  • F = Face: One side of the face droops.
  • A = Arms: One arm starts to drop when both arms are raised.
  • S = Speech: Speech is slurred or sounds different than usual.
  • T = Time: A person who is having a stroke needs to be seen immediately. A stroke is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. Some medicines and treatments work best if given within a few hours of a stroke.
    FAST Sings of a Stroke

Signs and symptoms

are usually gone within an hour after a TIA. Any of the following may happen suddenly:

  • Numb or weak areas of your face, arm, or leg, or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Trouble walking or keeping your balance
  • Dizziness or a severe headache
  • Slurred speech, trouble talking, or not understanding language
  • Blurry or double vision, or sudden blindness in one or both eyes

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone else call if:

  • 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
FAST Sings of a Stroke

Call your doctor or neurologist if:

  • You have double vision or vision loss.
  • You have a severe headache or feel dizzy.
  • Your blood pressure or blood sugar level is higher or lower than you were told it should be.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment:

A TIA does not need to be treated. The following may be used to treat the cause of your TIA to prevent a stroke:

  • Medicines may be used to prevent blood clots from forming. 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.
  • Surgery may be needed to open a blocked artery (blood vessel). Blocked carotid arteries cause poor blood flow to the brain or heart.

What you can do to prevent another TIA or a stroke:

  • Manage health conditions. A condition such as diabetes can increase your risk for a stroke. Control your blood sugar level if you have hyperglycemia or diabetes. Take your prescribed medicines and check your blood sugar level as directed.
    How to check your blood sugar
  • Check your blood pressure as directed. High blood pressure can increase your risk for a stroke. If you have high blood pressure, follow your healthcare provider's directions for controlling your blood pressure.
    How to take a Blood Pressure
  • Do not use nicotine products or illegal drugs. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage. Nicotine and illegal drugs both increase your risk for a stroke. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke or use drugs and need help to quit. E- cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about alcohol. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure. The recommended limit is 2 drinks in a day for men and 1 drink in a day for women. Do not binge drink or save a week's worth of alcohol to drink in 1 or 2 days. Limit weekly amounts as directed by your provider.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Choose foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Eat foods that are high in potassium, such as potatoes and bananas. A dietitian can help you create healthy meal plans.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. He or she can help you create small goals if you have a lot of weight to lose.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar levels. Healthcare providers will help you create exercise goals. They can also help you make a plan to reach your goals. For example, you can break exercise into 10 minute periods, 3 times in the day. Find an exercise that you enjoy. This will make it easier for you to reach your exercise goals.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Manage stress. Stress can raise your blood pressure. Find ways to relax, such as deep breathing or listening to music.

Follow up with your doctor or neurologist in 1 to 2 days:

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

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Transient Ischemic Attack (Ambulatory Care)

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