Chances are you don’t even know that mini strokes exist. A mini stroke – also called a TIA or transient ischaemic attack – occurs when part of the brain is temporarily deprived of blood and therefore oxygen. This leads to outward signs such as difficulty in speaking or moving an arm or leg on one side of the body. These symptoms may last for just a few minutes or for up to a few hours, but by definition they disappear in under 24 hours. Of great concern is that a large percentage of people who suffer a mini stroke end up suffering a major stroke within months.
What do you need to look out for?
Symptoms of a TIA are the same as those for a stroke. If you or anyone around you experiences any of the following, it could indicate a mini stroke and urgent medical attention should be sought:
Any sudden facial weakness or distortion eg. one side of the mouth drooping
Any sudden loss of limb movement eg. an inability to raise one or both arms
Sudden disturbed or slurred speech, confusion or difficulty understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
What can you do?
Just because symptoms disappear within 24 hours, it doesn’t mean that a mini stroke can be ignored. Once a person has suffered a mini stroke, their risk or suffering a full blown stroke – often leading to permanent disability – rises dramatically.
A high percentage of strokes can be prevented through adopting a healthy lifestyle, and awareness is the key. Having regular health assessments can help to determine if you are at risk. If you do have high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood cholesterol or are overweight, you will need to work with a health practitioner to take action to keep them in a healthy range.
Being physically active and exercising regularly, as well as adopting a healthy diet and limiting alcohol consumption, will also reduce your risk. Also crucial is avoiding cigarette smoke and exposure to second hand smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now.
So go on, pencil in a mini-break in your busy schedule and consider how healthy your lifestyle is – it could be the best decision you made all day.
For more free heart smart nutritional advice from a registered dietician, call the Heart and Stroke Health Line on 0860 1 43278 (0860 1 HEART), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.heartfoundation.co.za
- (Health24, July 2012)
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