Transient ischemic attack is one of the prominent and hazardous health condition which has the potential to cause permanent neurological damage. This article informs you about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for the same.
Transient ischemic attack, also known as mini stroke in common language, is a health condition that disrupts the way brain functions for a short period of time. In other words, it is a shorter version of stroke, which occurs when some part of the brain or entire brain is deprived of oxygen filled blood for sometime. The symptoms of such a stroke or a stroke itself last from a few minutes to less than 24 hours, and hence the name mini stroke.
Brain is one of the crucial organs in the body. It controls almost everything in our body, be it thinking, talking, sensing, moving,seeing, and just about everything we do to keep ourselves alive is controlled by the brain. And any disruption in the functioning of the brain can have adverse effect on our health. Hence stroke is considered as one of the dangerous health conditions which can have fatal effects, or can cause permanent neurological damage in an individual.
Causes of Transient Ischemic Attack
The primary reason for mini stroke is lack of oxygen to few parts of the brain, or the entire brain. This happens when the brain is deprived of smooth blood supply and there are various reasons for blood supply to get interrupted. Given below are some of the most common conditions that can lead to blocking the blood supply to the brain resulting in stroke or mini stroke:
- Blood clot formation in the arteries of the brain
- Blood clots that float downstream from the heart and get stuck in the blood vessels
- Formation of debris or build up inside the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain
- Leakage (hemorrhage) in blood vessels due to high blood pressure
- Injury to the blood vessels
- Certain blood disorders, such as, polycythemia, sickle cell anemia, and thick blood problems, etc.
- Spasm of arteries that supply blood to the brain
- Swelling of the arteries or blood vessels
- Atrial fibrillation characterized by irregular heart rhythm
Symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack
Give below are some of the common symptoms of mini strokes, occurrence of which should necessitate medical help as soon as possible:
- Numbness in few body parts or in entire body
- Weakness of muscles in the face, arm, and/or leg
- Difficulty speaking and communicating
- Loss of partial or complete vision or double vision
- Loss of memory or confusion
- Inability to control body movements
- Loss of body balance
- Inability to swallow food
- Heavy head and dizziness
- Inability to control bowels and bladder
Apart from these, there are many other gender specific symptoms that can be experienced by men and women.
Treatment for Transient Ischemic Attack
When you observe the aforementioned symptoms, it is crucial to visit a doctor at the earliest, to avoid permanent neurological damages. The experts, through various tests and examinations, would try to determine the cause of the stroke. They would also ask the patient about his/her family history, current health status, and the symptoms to diagnose the accurate root cause of the mini stroke.
Once the exact cause is diagnosed, the doctors will prescribe the accordingly. The treatment for transient ischemic attack depends largely on the causes of the attack. But, generally the treatment can consist of one or a combination of the treatments mentioned below:
Medicines and Drugs
A patient is generally prescribed with many medicines to prevent further major stroke attacks. Essentially, there are two types of drugs that can be prescribed to patients with different conditions. The first type of drug is anti platelet drug, which helps in busting the clot, which restores the smooth blood supply to the brain. Generally, aspirin or clopidogrel is prescribed. Apart from this, some anticoagulants are also used to prevent the blood from forming clots in the body. The other type of medicine motivates blood platelet formation. It is prescribed to patients where the cause of the stroke is hemorrhage or bleeding.
In severe cases, where the debris and plaque has accumulated the blood vessels doctors may suggest surgery. Surgery, generally, involves opening the clogged artery, removing the plaque and closing it again. In some cases, where the clot is big and it is dangerous to wait till it’s busts then too doctors suggest surgery. Apart from this, some doctors also go for angioplasty, which involves removing the debris from the arteries using balloon like device and keeping the artery open using a small wire tube.
Simultaneously, a patient is asked to change his lifestyle that may interfere with the treatment. Smoking, drug abuse, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and high cholesterol levels, can worsen the situation and also increase the risk of another stroke or mini stroke. Regular exercise, balanced diet, healthy lifestyle, and regular health monitoring can help you keep stay stroke free and healthy.