Also known as transient ischemic attack or TIA, a mini-stroke happens when a part of the brain experiences a temporary loss of blood supply. Because of this, it produces symptoms that are similar to an actual stroke, although they tend to resolve on their own within a day. It can be difficult to tell apart a mini-stroke and a stroke based on their symptoms, so it’s very important for an individual experiencing it to receive medical attention right away.

Despite of what it’s called, a mini-stroke is something that should be taken very seriously. That’s because experts say that someone who just suffered a mini-stoke is likely to experience a full-blown stroke later on. It is of utmost importance to be armed with the right pieces of information about a mini-stroke — many of which will be discussed below.

Causes

A mini-stroke takes place when a blood clot that usually forms elsewhere travels to a blood vessel supplying your brain with blood, causing a disruption in circulation. There are instances when it’s due to an air bubble or a small piece of fatty material. Sometimes it may be due to a bleeding in the brain, but this rarely happens.

Both a mini-stroke and a real stroke are due to the same causes. However, blood flow disruption in a mini-stroke happens only for a short period of time, thus the brain incurs no significant damage.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a mini-stroke are basically the same as those of an actual stroke. However, they don’t last for a long time. In fact, experts say that the symptoms of a mini-stroke may last for a minute to 24 hours only. Despite of this, seeking medical attention right away is warranted because it’s hard to determine at first whether the symptoms being experienced by the individual is associated with a mini-stroke or a full-blown one.

A person who is experiencing a mini-stroke may have slurred speech or not be able to talk. One side of his or her face may drop on one side. Weakness of the arms may be experienced, or sometimes a total paralysis of one half of the body. Confusion, dizziness and balance problems are other symptoms.

In some cases, there is temporary blindness in one eye, which can last anywhere from just a few seconds to a few minutes. There are times, too, when the individual having a mini-stroke may have blurry vision or see everything around looking gray. Bright lights are said to aggravate this temporary visual disturbance a mini-stroke brings.

Risk Factors

Experts say that it is likelier for men to have a mini-stroke than women. Also, older people are at higher risk of it than younger ones. Compared to other races, Native Americans and African Americans are more at risk. Because having a mini-stroke tends to run in families, it’s not unlikely for you to suffer from it if you have a relative who had it. Definitely, you are susceptible to having another mini-stroke if you recently had one.

Having high blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors of a mini-stroke. Other medical conditions that may also cause the problem include high cholesterol levels, diabetes, obesity and atrial fibrillation. Being a smoker and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also puts you at high risk of having a mini-stroke.

Treatments

Fortunately, there are several treatments available for a mini-stroke. Having the right treatment is very important because, as mentioned earlier, a mini-stroke can put you at risk of having an actual stroke. Drugs that keep the platelets of the blood from sticking to one another as well as prevent blood clot formation are usually administered by doctors.

Sometimes surgery may be warranted to manage the severe narrowing of the carotid artery situated in the neck, a blood vessel that supplies blood to your head and brain.

Prevention

Dietary and lifestyle changes help reduce one’s chances of having a mini-stroke. More fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet, and foods that are fatty, greasy and sugary should be avoided.

It’s a good idea to exercise regularly to keep unwanted pounds at bay as well as to help regulate the blood pressure. Smoking should be stopped. The same is true with excessive intake of alcohol. Definitely, reducing stress can help lower your risk of having a mini-stroke.

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