Understanding Transient Ischemic Attack

A transient ischemic attack is a condition that is caused by sudden changes in the blood supply going to a particular area of the body, typically the brain. Also more commonly known as TIA, a transient ischemic attack may cause a person to experience a brief neurological dysfunction that lasts for less than 24 hours. If the symptoms persist for more than a day, the condition is categorized as a stroke.

Causes of transient ischemic attack

The main cause of a transient ischemic attack is a temporary decrease of blood supply into the brain. It can be caused by a clot that has formed and traveling from the brain to another part of the body. The underlying cause of most TIA’s is due to the buildup of fatty deposits called plaques in one of the arteries or other branches that supply blood to the brain.

Symptoms of transient ischemic attack

Transient ischemic attacks usually just last for a few minutes. The symptoms associated with it can disappear just within an hour. The symptoms may be similar to those associated with stroke. A person may feel sudden weakness or numbness in certain parts of the body. Temporary paralysis of the face, arms, legs or even one side of the body may be experienced.

Just like a stroke, a transient ischemic attack may also cause a person to experience slurred speech or difficulty understanding others.

There may also be sudden blindness in one or both eyes while others may experience sudden double vision.

Other symptoms include dizziness and loss of balance and body coordination. These symptoms usually disappear within 24 hours after the initial experience with the body usually returning to its normal state.

How  transient ischemic attack is diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a transient ischemic attack may be based on a review of a person’s medical history of the event rather than on a general physical and neurological exam. This means that a TIA may be diagnosed once the event have been experienced.

What most doctors look into is the underlying cause of the attack. Tests that may be done to diagnose TIA include taking CT and MR scans, carotid ultrasonography, arteriography, computerized tomography angiography and many others.

How to transient ischemic attack?

Prevention of transient ischemic attacks involves living a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise. Avoiding alcohol and smoking as well as maintaining a healthy weight is also important.

How to treat transient ischemic attack

Treatment for a transient ischemic attack involves trying to prevent a stroke or to correct abnormality that lead to the attack.

Depending on the cause, TIA can be treated using anti-platelet and anticoagulant drugs to reduce the tendency of blot to clot. TIA’s can even be treated with surgery to clear out fatty deposits or to keep clogged arteries open.


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