Aging increases the chances of having a stroke or a heart attack. A stroke is nothing but a brain attack. If the brain is deprived of oxygen due to interrupted blood supply, certain parts of the brain get damaged. This condition is referred to as 'stroke'. As the neurons in the affected area stop functioning, some of the body parts stop working. If the stroke does not have long-lasting effect on the body, it is referred to as 'mini stroke'. A mini stroke or a complete stroke can damage some parts of the brain and the body if not treated promptly.
In medical language, a mini stroke is known as transient ischemic attack (TIA). It indicates lack of blood flow to an area of the brain for a brief period. The symptoms of brain-function impairment are seen in people having such strokes. A family history, being overweight, excessive smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, excessive consumption of certain medicines, having high cholesterol, a blood clot, diabetes, high-blood pressure, or cardiovascular diseases increase the chances of having a stroke. The condition needs prompt medical attention, and if the family members are unable to recognize the symptoms of stroke in the elderly, the patient may have to suffer from life-threatening effects.
Warning Signs of a Transient Ischemic Attack in the Elderly
Lack of blood supply to the brain can lead to headache.
Lack of blood supply to that part of the brain which controls the balance of the body can result in dizziness and fainting. It may create numbness or tingling sensation in various parts of the body.
If a healthy person suddenly starts behaving weirdly, then you should take him to the nearest clinic immediately. The person might be unable to understand what you are speaking. He might be unable to speak as well.
A transient ischemic attack may lead to mild paralysis of one side of the face, or the leg or arm on one side. The patient may experience weakness or numbness in one arm or leg. This can be considered as a sure sign of mini stroke. You may notice drooping mouth or eyes. Perhaps, the person won't be able to smile. Raising the arm or leg may seem difficult for him.
Actually, the symptoms in the elderly depend upon which part of the brain is deprived of oxygen for a short while. If the center in the brain which controls the vision is affected, then blurred vision, double vision, or temporary loss of vision through one eye can be experienced by the person. Affected vision is one of the most common symptoms observed in the elderly.
If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should act fast and dial 911 for help. You can also dial the emergency helpline number of your area. The signs of mini stroke are noticed only for a few minutes. They might go away without any major brain tissue damage. If you notice the above signs for more than 5 minutes, then it might be a complete stroke. In any case, the symptoms need prompt medical attention.
The elderly should never hesitate to undergo regular medical checkup. These checkups actually can help prevent a TIA. Maintaining normal blood pressure levels is essential to prevent a stroke. The elderly should follow a low-fat diet to keep their cholesterol levels under control. Regular exercising, and avoiding excessive smoking or drinking (alcohol) can reduce the chances of a stroke.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.