If a friend or loved one has recently experienced numbness, tingling, trouble speaking or paralysis in a part of your body, your first thought may be a stroke. However, in some instances, those symptoms go away after a relatively brief of time and can be attributed to a TIA. A TIA shares many of the same symptoms as a stroke and is often referred to as a mini-stroke. However, you should be aware of the following questions to ask about TIAs, so that you can access the appropriate information about staying healthy.
How Was The TIA Confirmed?
While there has been some controversy over the most appropriate tests to confirm TIAs, in recent years the recommendation has strongly favored the use of an MRI over a CT scan. That is often due to the fact that CT scans use a small mount of radiation to create the necessary images of bone and other more solid substances. In comparison, the MRI uses magnetic fields and radio signals to create images without any radiation, so the MRI is a better choice for imaging softer areas such as the brain, tendons, and arteries.
If your loved one was seen and diagnosed in the emergency room, it is possible that he or she received a CT scan, as it is faster to complete and interpret. It is a good idea to ask for an MRI to confirm the results.
What Steps Should Be Taken To Prevent A Recurrence?
It is important to note that a TIA, which is short for Transient Ischemic Attack, is a common sign of an impending stroke. That is because they are both caused by a clot in the blood stream that reaches the brain. The primary, and often the only, difference between the two is that the clot with a TIA dissolves quickly and leaves no lasting damage. When someone experiences a stroke, the clot does not dissolve quickly and some amount of permanent damage is usually the result.
With prompt treatment, it is often possible to use the occurrence of a TIA as a way to make necessary changes to prevent a stroke. For instance, the neurologist may suggest a low-fat diet, blood thinners, and medication to lower cholesterol. Surgery, including angioplasty to clear out blocked arteries could be needed. Since cholesterol build-up is frequently the cause of the clot's formation, reducing the bad cholesterol is a common goal.
In conclusion, a TIA is temporary but can often be a warning sign that a full-blown stroke is likely to occur in the near future. If you experience any of the common symptoms of a stroke, it is essential to seek immediate medical care, as only your doctor will be able to determine if the problem is a stroke or TIA. Therefore, the questions listed above will be very helpful to ask your neurologist as soon as possible after the troublesome symptoms manifest.