The warning stroke – also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini stroke – can be quite serious, but many people do not seek help as promptly as they should.
Both TIAs and strokes are caused by blockage of a blood vessel in the brain. Major risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, alcohol and drug use, obesity, stress, smoking, and high cholesterol. You may also be more susceptible to strokes if you are African American or American Indian, or if someone in your family has had a stroke before. Your risk of stroke also increases as you get older, so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms.
In a TIA, the blockage and symptoms are transient, or temporary. A TIA usually lasts a few minutes, but can be as long as 24 hours. During a TIA, you may experience sudden confusion; trouble speaking or understanding; sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, severe headache with no known cause. The American Stroke Association recommends calling for emergency help immediately, even if your stroke symptoms go away.
Those who get a warning stroke are at increased risk to have a stroke within 90 days. That is why it is so important to get checked out quickly if you develop stroke symptoms!
The American Stroke Association recommends learning the acronym F.A.S.T. and seeking immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms develop:
Time to call 911
“Ignoring any stroke sign could be a deadly mistake,” said Mitch Elkind, M.D., chair of the American Stroke Association. “Only a formal medical diagnosis can determine whether you’re having a TIA or a stroke. If you or someone you know experiences a stroke warning sign that comes on suddenly – whether it goes away or not – call 911 right away to improve chances of an accurate diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.”
The good news is that many strokes are preventable. Seeking medical attention right away as soon as the signs first occur improves the chances of an accurate diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Many stroke treatments must be completed in the first few hours after symptoms begin to be effective. It is important to seek immediate medical attention to allow health care professionals to utilize time sensitive treatments.