- Mini stroke means that there is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain.
- Signs and symptoms of a mini-stroke may include sudden onset of weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg (usually on one side of the body) and sudden onset of confusion or trouble speaking.
- If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
A mini-stroke also called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), is a “warning stroke” that happens when blood flow to your brain is blocked for a short time. Although the symptoms are similar to those of a full-blown stroke, they usually last only a few minutes and don’t cause permanent damage.
TIAs are important because they often precede a full-blown stroke, which can lead to disability or even death. Up to 40% of people who have a TIA will go on to have a stroke within one year, according to the National Stroke Association. (1)
What are the signs and symptoms of a mini-stroke?
The symptoms of a TIA come on suddenly and may include the following:
- Weakness or numbness in your face, arm, or leg (usually on one side of your body)
- Slurred or garbled speech
- Problems with vision in one or both eyes
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- A sudden, severe headache
Because the symptoms of a TIA are similar to those of a stroke, it’s important to call 9-1-1 or get to an emergency room right away if you experience any of them.
The symptoms of a TIA usually last only a few minutes, although, in some people, they may resolve within 24 hours. After the symptoms go away, you may feel tired and have difficulty moving your affected arm or leg. (2, 3, 4)
What causes a mini-stroke?
A TIA is caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow to your brain. This can be due to a clot that forms in one of the arteries that supply blood to your brain. It can also be caused by a piece of plaque that breaks off from a larger blockage in an artery and lodges in a smaller blood vessel. (5)
Risk factors for a mini-stroke
The same risk factors that can lead to a stroke can also cause a TIA. These include: (6)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Being overweight or obese
- A family history of stroke or TIA
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol use
Even if you have one or more of these risk factors, there’s no guarantee you’ll have a TIA or a stroke. But if you have a TIA, it’s important to take steps to lower your risk of having a full-blown stroke.
How to avoid stroke after TIA?
If you’ve had a TIA, your risk of having a stroke is higher than if you’ve never had one. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower your risk. According to the National Health Service (NHS), these include: (7)
- Taking measures to control your blood pressure
- Quitting smoking
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Limiting your alcohol intake
- Managing any other health conditions you have, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation
A mini-stroke is a warning sign that you may be at risk for a full-blown stroke. If you have any of the symptoms of a TIA, it’s important to get to an emergency room right away. You can lower your risk of having a stroke by taking measures to control your blood pressure, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.