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TIA Transient Ischemic Attack : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or light stroke is an attack that occurs when the blood supply to the brain experiences a momentary disorder. This attack generally lasts shorter than a stroke, which is for several minutes to several hours, and the person will recover within one day.

Although only for a moment, the TIA is a warning that a more severe attack will come. Having experienced TIA means you are at higher risk for stroke and heart attack.

If not handled properly, it is estimated that there are around 20 percent of people with TIA who will experience a stroke the following year. While people with TIA who have the potential to have a heart attack in the same year are around 30 percent.

Transient Ischemic Attack Symptoms

Symptoms that indicate TIA generally occur suddenly and are similar to the initial indications experienced by people with stroke, including:

  • One side of the mouth and the face of the sufferer look down.
  • Arm or leg that has paralysis or becomes weak so that it cannot be removed which is then followed by paralysis on one side of the body.
  • The speech is chaotic and unclear.
  • Difficulty understanding other people's words.
  • Loss of body balance or coordination.
  • Daze.
  • Dizzy.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Blurred vision or blindness.

Don't underestimate the symptoms of TIA even though these symptoms can disappear on their own. This attack indicates that you are at risk of having a stroke at a later stage.

Immediately go to the hospital if you experience or see other people showing symptoms of TIA. People who have had a mild stroke, but have not been examined themselves are also advised to immediately undergo an examination at the hospital.

Transient Ischemic Attack Causes

TIA is generally caused by a small clot that is involved in the blood vessels of the brain. These clots can be in the form of fat or air bubbles. The blockage will inhibit blood flow and trigger a lack of oxygen in certain parts of the brain. This is what causes disruption of brain function.




In contrast to strokes, clots that cause TIA will disintegrate on their own so that brain function will return to normal. Therefore, TIA does not cause significant damage. There are several factors that are believed to increase your risk of experiencing TIA, such as:

  • The risk of TIA will increase with age, especially for the elderly over 60 years.
  • The risk for men to experience TIA is higher than women.
  • If you have a family member who has experienced TIA, you are at a higher risk for the same attack.
  • A pattern of life that is not maintained can also trigger factors in the risk of hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol.
  • The risk of TIA in people with heart disorders, heart failure, heart infections, abnormal heart rates, and diabetes will be higher than normal people.

Risk Factors for TIA

There are several factors that are believed to increase your risk for experiencing TIA, including:

  • The risk of TIA will increase with age, especially for the elderly over 55 years.
  • The risk for men to experience TIA is higher than women.
  • Heredity factor. If you have a family member who has experienced TIA, you have a higher risk of getting the same attack.
  • Bad pattern of life. For example smoking, consuming excessive liquor, lack of exercise, consuming salty and fatty foods, and using illegal drugs. A pattern of life that is not maintained can also trigger factors in the risk of hypertension, obesity, and high cholesterol.
  • Effect of certain diseases or disorders. The risk of TIA in people with heart disorders, heart failure, heart infections, abnormal heart rates, and diabetes will be higher than normal people.

Someone who has experienced TIA is also at high risk of developing the same symptoms.

TIA Diagnosis Process

Examination and diagnosis of TIA should be done as early as possible. This process will help the doctor to reduce your risk for a more severe attack later on.

The duration of the TIA attack tends to be short so that generally new people have undergone an examination after symptoms have subsided. The doctor will ask for the symptoms and duration of the attack that you have experienced first. You will also undergo a physical examination, such as checking blood pressure.

If you suspect you have TIA, your doctor will recommend a more detailed set of examinations and tests. This process includes:

  • Neurological examination, such as coordination ability, strength and body response.
  • Blood test. This test allows the doctor to check the risk factors behind TIA, such as cholesterol levels and sugar in the blood.
  • Examination of an Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test can detect abnormal heart rhythms that are one of the risk factors for TIA.
  • Carotid ultrasound. This type of ultrasound is used to check for the presence or absence of narrowing or blockage of the carotid artery in the neck.
  • MRI and CT scan. This step is taken if the location of the TIA in the brain is unknown.
  • Tests are performed to check the condition of blood vessels in the body, usually through a groin.

These types of examinations are also useful for discovering the causes behind your TIA attacks, while examining the level of risk of stroke that you have.

Read Also : 5 Symptoms of Neurological Disease that You Need to Know

Transient Ischemic Attack Treatment

Each person with TIA certainly needs a different type of treatment. The doctor will determine the appropriate treatment steps based on several factors, including age, health condition, and causes of TIA. Treatment of TIA aims to treat or improve abnormalities and prevent the risk of stroke. This step is done through medication and surgery.

Medications are used to prevent the risk of stroke. The location, causes, severity, and type of TIA experienced will be the determining factors in choosing the type of drug. Here are some types of drugs commonly given by doctors.

  • Antiplatelet and anticoagulants. Both of these drugs function to prevent clots and blood clots. Aspirin, clopidogrel, and dipyridamole are antiplatelet examples. While anticoagulant drugs include warfarin, dabigatran, and heparin.
  • As the name implies, this drug is used to treat hypertension. Examples are beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), thiazide diuretics, and calcium channel blockers.
  • The benefits of statins are to reduce cholesterol levels in the body. Some types of statins that are often given by doctors are simvastatin, rosuvastatin, and atorvastatin.

In certain cases, surgery is sometimes needed by sufferers. This step is carried out when there is a narrowing of the middle to severe levels in the carotid artery. The type of procedure that might be recommended is carotid endarterectomy and angioplasty.

In addition to drugs and surgery, lifestyle changes will also play an important role in the treatment process. This method can reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks for people with TIA, while preventing further TIA attacks.

Prevention of Transient Ischemic Attack

This prevention is very beneficial for everyone, especially those who have high risk. Some simple steps that can be taken include:

Applying a healthy and balanced diet. Limit salt and fat intake and increase consumption of foods rich in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables

  • Diligent exercise. You are encouraged to do physical activity that is quite exhausting, at least 2.5 hours a week.
  • Stop smoking and reduce consumption of liquor. Both of these steps will not only reduce the risk of TIA and stroke, but also other diseases.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. This step will prevent you from obesity which is a trigger factor for TIA.
  • Handle conditions that might cause TIA carefully, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Avoid illegal drugs, such as cocaine and so on to avoid the risk of developing TIA or other chronic diseases.



References

References

1. American Heart Association. TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack).

2. Sorensen, AG. Ay, H. (2011). Transient Ischemic Attack Definition, Diagnosis, and Risk Stratification. Neuroimaging Clinics of North America.

3. Tidy, C. Patient (2017). Transient Ischaemic Attack.


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