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A 5 minute headache may actually be a mini stroke, a signal that a major stroke may follow

The American Heart Association recently noted that recognizing and treating a "mini stroke" could prevent a major stroke from happening. A TIA or transient ischemic attack, is the body's way of warning you that you are at risk of a major stroke in the future. TIA's usually only last a few minutes and don't cause damage. About one third of people with TIA's will subsequently have a stroke, and about half of those will have it within a year.

What causes a TIA (mini-stroke)?

TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn't get the blood it needs. The symptoms occur rapidly and last a few moments. Most TIAs last less than five minutes. The average is about a minute. Unlike stroke, when a TIA is over, there's no injury to the brain. It is also worth noting that full blown strokes can occur without the prediction of a TIA.

Recognizing a TIA or Stroke, signs and symptoms:

  • sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion, speech  problems, or trouble comprehending speech
  • sudden problems walking, dizziness, loss of balance
  • sudden severe headache
  • sudden vision problems, especially in one eye

Get help immediately!

These symptoms should prompt you to call an ambulance and visit the e.r. right away. The doctor will make a diagnosis based on your medical history and a head scan. St. David's Medical Center in Austin, Texas is certified as a primary stroke center. Seton Medical Centers are seeking certification as primary stroke centers. Web MD reports that stents in people with heart disease can prevent strokes.

Mini strokes are not full blown strokes, but are an indication that one could be in your future. Neurologists are the doctors that treat strokes and mini strokes and if you are a candidate for either, you should establish a relationship with a good neurologist.

High risk group for strokes and TIA's:

  • family history of TIA or stroke
  • age 55 years or older
  • men are at higher risk than women
  • African Americans are at higher risk
  • blood pressure 140/85 mm Hg or higher
  • high cholesterol
  • heart disease, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease
  • obesity
  • cigarette smoking
  • heavy drinking
  • diabetes
  • high fat, high sodium diet

With treatment, you may lower the likelihood of having a TIA or stroke. Lowering your risk factors may prevent or lessen the onset of strokes. Better health is in your hands.

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