5 Ways to Stop a TIA From Becoming a Full-Fledged Stroke

Strokes cause permanent neurological deficits, while TIA's (transient ischemic attacks) or mini strokes, which are very similar to strokes, only cause temporary symptoms.

In some instances, TIAs or other forewarning signs precede strokes. If you have experienced a TIA, this is a warning that is it time to actively manage your stroke risk -which is the best way to prevent a stroke. However, in many instances, a stroke can happen suddenly, without any warning at all, often resulting in completely unforeseen life changing consequences and significant disability.

What Makes a TIA Different From a Stroke? 

A TIA, like a stroke, can involve any part of the brain. And like a stroke, a TIA causes neurological symptoms that correspond the affected region of the brain, ranging from visual changes to weakness, to confusion to speech and language problems.

The big difference between a TIA and a stroke is that a TIA resolves quickly, before any permanent brain damage or neurological symptoms can occur. This happens because a TIA is a temporary interruption of blood flow to a part of the brain - and sometimes, the blood supply can be restored quickly.

A stroke, in contrast to a TIA, is an interruption of blood flow to a region of the brain that lasts long enough for brain tissue damage to occur. This type of damage leaves brain cells unable to function normally. A stroke can be large or small. In fact, a stroke can be small enough or insignificant enough that it isn't even noticed, resulting in a silent stroke.

In the first few minutes, it is almost impossible to predict whether a neurological event will turn out to be a stroke or a TIA. But there are a few ways to modify the outcome. 

Can You Prevent a TIA from Becoming a Stroke?

If you have any risk factors for stroke, including age over 60, heart disease, high blood pressure, blood problems, high cholesterol, diabetes or smoking, you should become familiar with the ways that you can recognize a stroke or a TIA.

There are, in fact, a few things that you can do to reduce the chances that a TIA will progress to a stroke. A few of these require long-term planning, and a few require on-the-spot action.

1. Don't Ignore Mini Strokes.

Quite often a stroke survivor may recall unusual fleeting neurological symptoms in the days, weeks or months prior to the stroke. Patients usually say, ' I thought it would go away,' or 'I just brushed it off because it got better,' or even, 'I didn't know what to make of it, so I didn’t want to ask for trouble.' Many times, these unusual symptoms were, in fact, TIAs. 

It is best never to ignore something that could be a mini stroke. Risk factor management has been proven to prevent stroke, even after TIAs have occurred.

2. Take Medication as Scheduled

If you are prescribed medication, it is vital to take it as directed. When you skip anti-hypertensive medications, heart medicine, and blood thinners- your body compensates in ways that are harmful, possibly becoming even more prone to a stroke than before. If you do not like your medication side effects, tell you doctor so that he or she can adjust your dose or prescribe a different medication.

3. Build Up Spare Brain 

Evidence shows that physical fitness combined with mental fitness can help in preventing stroke and in minimizing the damage from a stroke by building ‘spare brain.’  The brain’s natural tendency to repair is maximized when mental fitness is boosted through mentally challenging activities, such as learning a new language. Painless ways to stay mentally and physically fit should be a part of your routine even before you ever experience a TIA.

4. Don't Wait to See What Happens.

Many stroke sufferers have known friends or family who have had TIAs. Wishful thinking often leads people to treat all neurological symptoms as TIAs. 'I will call my doctor in the morning,' or 'I will mention it when I are my doctor next week.' A TIA requires immediate medical attention and can't wait for a more convenient time. It is a very risky gamble to wager on neurological symptoms turning out to be a TIA instead of a stroke.

5. Rapid Treatment

Some of the most powerful stroke treatments, such as TPA, must be administered within a short window of time. If you receive emergency treatment, your symptoms can resolve, and you have a much better chance of avoiding permanent effects of a stroke. This can essentially make the outcome of what might have been a serious stroke substantially better.

A Word From Verywell

If you are at risk of stroke, quickly recognizing a stroke or a TIA can save your life- and prevent permanent neurological handicaps. Sometimes, fast action can effectively manage a TIA to alter the outcome and prevent a stroke.

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