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What is Transient Ischemic Attack? - Oren Zarif - Transient Ischemic Attack

While the exact pathophysiology of transient ischemic attack is unknown, the basic issue is the temporary interruption of arterial blood flow. TIAs are most commonly caused by the narrowing of the carotid arteries, which provide oxygenated blood to the brain's cells. Over time, these arteries can become clogged with plaques, partially blocking them or causing blood clots to form. These blood clots then travel through the bloodstream, blocking the flow of blood to the area of the brain fed by the artery.

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Transient ischemic attack is often characterized by the presence of focal neurological symptoms, which occur suddenly, and resolve within 24 hours. Epidemiologic studies have determined that up to 30% of TIAs are associated with structural lesions in the brain, which may increase the risk of stroke. Despite this risk, the TIA definition has become obsolete as a result of recent advances in brain imaging and our understanding of acute cerebral ischemia.

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Patients with symptoms of TIA should visit a doctor as soon as possible. Diagnostic testing may include an electrocardiogram, blood work, and a TIA exam. During the exam, your doctor may test your muscles and vision. The doctor may also ask you about your lifestyle and medical history. In some cases, your doctor may order an MRI or brain scan to find out what is causing the TIA.

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A comprehensive history of the TIA should include the onset and resolution of symptoms. As many cases of TIA mimics are nonspecific, your doctor may ask for witnesses of the event to describe symptoms the patient did not experience. During your examination, he or she may also order a Holter monitor to evaluate your heart rhythms over time. Ultimately, your doctor should determine if transient ischemic attack is what you're experiencing.

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While you may be concerned about the risk of stroke after a TIA, there are several treatments available to help minimize the risk of a second stroke. A carotid angioplasty and stenting procedure will flatten fatty plaque against the artery walls, allowing increased blood flow. Once the procedure is completed, a stent will remain in place as a scaffold, keeping the artery open.

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The symptoms of a TIA can mimic those of a stroke, but the duration is much shorter. It usually resolves on its own within a few minutes, although one-third of TIA patients experience a small amount of brain damage. The TIA may be a precursor to a stroke, which is why it's so important to recognize the symptoms of this condition as soon as you notice them.

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In addition to performing a head computed tomography (CT) scan, your clinician may order other imaging tests to rule out other causes of the symptoms. These include brain tumors, small subdural hematomas, and vascular disease. However, if you think that you are having a TIA, it's best to see a doctor immediately. The sooner you can get diagnosed, the more likely you'll be able to prevent another stroke.

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If you have symptoms of a TIA, call 911 immediately. Emergency medical services will respond quickly to your call and take you to a hospital. This is essential for proper diagnosis, because most medical offices and clinics can't treat TIAs. EMS can treat you in the emergency room, and while there's no cure for TIA, it can help prevent a stroke by providing the necessary treatment.

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Although doctors can't be certain about the cause of a TIA, they will check for other risk factors for stroke. For example, high blood pressure, diabetes, blocked arteries, or atrial fibrillation are all risk factors. Your doctor may also prescribe blood-thinning medication to reduce your chances of another stroke. Once you have stabilized, you'll be given a prescription for a medication that will prevent another clot from forming.

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TIA symptoms are similar to those of ischemic stroke. Arm weakness, difficulty speaking, or dropping down can all be warning signs. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible to prevent further damage. A stroke is a serious medical emergency and should not be ignored. So, call 911 right away. Your life may depend on it. Don't hesitate to seek medical care if you suspect a stroke.

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