TIA: Prelude to a Stroke

You’ve heard the terms transient ischemic attack (TIA) or, ministroke, but what does that really mean? TIAs are like chest pain before a heart attack.  They are a warning that something is wrong that could lead to a stroke. As with a stroke, time is of the essence in seeking medical treatment for a TIA.

So knowing the symptoms before they happen is essential. “Most TIAs produce symptoms that are very similar to those of a stroke, but they typically go away in a few minutes or hours,” says Susan Gaunt, stroke educator at Gwinnett Medical Center. If you recognize and act on them immediately, the doctor may be able to determine the cause and prevent a future TIA or stroke with treatment.  The most common symptoms include sudden onset of:
  • Facial droop
  • Arm or leg numbness &/or weakness
  • Slurred speech, trouble speaking, naming objects or sudden confusion, trouble reading or writing
Additional, less frequent symptoms include:
  • Sudden double, blurred or no vision
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. 
Want to reduce your risk for stroke, especially if you have had a TIA? Here some key steps.

Know Your Family History
A good place to start making healthy changes is evaluating your risk. If a close relative has had a stroke, your odds of having one are increased.

Manage Related Health Conditions
High cholesterol, diabetes and atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm) are risk factors for TIA. Medication may be needed, but high cholesterol and diabetes usually can be controlled through diet and exercise.

Get Moving
Exercise is another proven way to manage blood pressure, if approved by your physician.

Life After Stroke

At GMC we are committed to providing the highest possible quality of care. Our hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth feature dedicated acute care stroke units as well as stroke rehabilitation programs and services. To learn more about our stroke program, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/stroke.


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