Critical Facts About Mini-Strokes
A temporary mini-stroke may seem harmless once the symptoms subside. However, medical attention is necessary to decrease the risk of a full-blown stroke. In many cases, medical experts view the mini-stroke as a warning sign of a more serious condition.
What Is a Mini-Stroke?
A mini-stroke, or transient ischemic attack, occurs when the blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clot. The temporary block deprives the brain of essential oxygen but does not usually kill brain tissue, unlike an actual stroke. As of 2015, health experts predict that approximately 500,000 people in the United States experience a mini-stroke each year, and many do not seek medical attention. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of mini-stroke victims can experience a full-blown stroke within three months, with 40 percent of these occurring within 24 hours of the mini- stroke. Consulting with a physician can ward off the risk of subsequent strokes through treatment of the underlying condition.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Mini-Stroke?
The most common symptom of a mini-stroke is motor dysfunction, such as weakness on one particular side of the body. The weakness ranges from mild to severe and may include the inability to move the arms or facial muscles, inability to walk, or clumsiness in the fingers and hands. Patients experiencing a mini-stroke often complain of arm or leg pain and face weakness. In severe cases, a mini-stroke may cause blindness in one eye, dizziness or speech disturbances.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Risk factors that cannot be controlled include family history of strokes, age, gender and ethnic origin. People 55 years and older are at higher risk for a mini-stroke as are males and people of African ancestry. Risk factors that can be controlled to varying degrees include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, carotid artery disease, smoking, inactive lifestyles and diabetes.
While a stroke is a sudden, serious attack that can cause permanent damage, a mini-stroke is a temporary and less serious condition that may last a few minutes or a few hours. Patients experiencing symptoms of a mini-stroke should consult with a physician to rule out any more serious ailments or diseases that could cause significant damage to the body.