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Transient Ischemic Attack

Sensational Seniors

A stroke is a brain attack. When the blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked, a stroke will occur. Blood clots in another part of the body can also cause a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) as can narrowing of the smaller blood vessels in the brain, stopping blood flow temporarily. Stroke is now the number one cause of chronic adult disability in America.

The latest statistics show that strokes affect 730,000 people yearly. The occurrence of a TIA is warnings sign, do not ignore it!

  • Five percent of strokes will occur within one month of a TIA
  • 12 percent of strokes occur within one year of a TIA
  • 20 percent occur within two years
  • 25 percent will occur within three years

Symptoms of a TIA depend upon which area of the brain is involved.

Serious symptoms that require immediate attention are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you experience any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention immediately. A doctor will evaluate your occurrence, determine of you were having a TIA and administer treatment to prevent a stroke. Symptoms of a TIA can come and go so quickly, many people do not take them seriously and often will blame age, nerves, fatigue, etc. Once you have had a TIA, you are at high risk for another TIA and/or a full stroke.

To diagnose a TIA, your physician may opt to do a MRI, CT scan and/or a blood test. The MRI and CT scan tests are x-rays that will show blood flow rate or the possibility of blockages.

If it is determined that you have had a TIA; there are several clot-preventing mediations your physician can give you to reduce your risk of a full stroke. Aspirin is the least expensive clot prevention medication. Another option that is new is the combination of aspirin and extended-release prescription drugs.

If a partial blockage in the carotid artery has caused a TIA, surgery may be required to open the artery, thus preventing a stroke.

Lifestyle adjustments can help you prevent a further occurrence. Exercise and improving your diet may prevent a future TIA and/or a stroke. TIA's and strokes are definitely preventable in most cases. Uncontrollable risk factors include being over the age of 55, male, African American, family history of stroke and a personal history of diabetes.

Controllable Risk Factors; NSA Prevention Guidelines

Following are ten simple guidelines the NSA has put together to further your awareness and help you, help yourself in the event you have been, or could be, a victim of TIA and/or stroke.

  • Know your blood pressure. If it is elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control. A normal blood pressure reading is considered less than 130/85.
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat rhythm (also called AF). If you have AF, work with your doctor to manage it.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • Know your cholesterol number. If it is high, work with your doctor to get it under control.
  • If you are diabetic, follow your doctor's recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
  • Include exercise in the activities you enjoy in your daily routine.
  • Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet.
  • As your doctor whether or not you have circulation problems that increase your risk for stroke. If so, work with your doctor to control them.
  • If you have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Resource:  National Stroke Association

Caffeine & Stroke

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology stated caffeine may help prevent stroke. While researchers could not pinpoint exactly how coffee protects the brain against stroke, they noted that the brain-protective qualities of coffee peaked at three to four cups per day. Having six cups, for example, did not provide any additional decrease in the risk of stroke.

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