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Is It a TIA or Stroke?

Strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) appear to have similar symptoms, and both require medical assistance.

Numbness on one side of the body. Slurred speech. Confusion. Appears to be a stroke, right? Then again, if those stroke-like signs subside rather rapidly and seem minor, they may be caused by a TIA (transient ischemic attack). But prior to breathing that sigh of relief and getting back to life as usual, it’s important to recognize the facts about TIAs and why they need to always be brought to the attention of a health care professional right away.

Just What Is a TIA?

TIAs are the result of a blocked blood vessel that briefly obstructs the flow of blood to the brain. Symptoms mimic those that manifest during a stroke but resolve quickly and will not cause long-lasting neurological problems or brain damage. Because of this, many people shrug them off and do not seek medical care.

Why Tell the Physician About a TIA?

Consider a TIA as a critical “check engine” light in your car. Though you may still be able to drive the automobile, ignoring the error message could lead to tragedy. After a TIA has taken place, there is a 10 – 20 percent risk of stroke in the next 7 days, and a 9 – 17 percent risk in 90 days.

Also, because TIA and stroke symptoms are so very similar, you can’t initially tell which condition is taking place. Immediate medical attention is crucial in the event of a stroke. The longer left untreated, the more damage a stroke can cause to the brain, and the more serious and long-lasting the impairments might be.

Chris Streib, MD, Neurologist at M Health Fairview, states, “In some ways, people who have a TIA are actually very fortunate. It’s a warning that they are at high risk of a stroke that could cause permanent deficits. They have a chance to make immediate lifestyle and medication change to reduce their risk of an actual stroke.” 

Take These Steps if You Suspect a TIA

If you observe the indicators below that may signify either a TIA or stroke, call 911 immediately. A trip to the ER can allow for imaging and further tests to view the brain and blood vessels, determine the cause of the event, and then begin a treatment plan. Treatment for a TIA is different from that of a stroke, so receiving a correct diagnosis as soon as possible is key.

The latest recommendations to check for TIA or stroke signs follow the acronym BE FAST:

  • B: Balance. Is the person having trouble standing up?
  • E: Eyes. Is the person having vision problems?
  • F: Face. Is one side of the person’s face drooping?
  • A: Arms. Is the person experiencing weakness or numbness in one arm?
  • S: Speech. Is the person having trouble speaking, or are words slurred?
  • T: Timing. Call 911 immediately, and note the time the symptoms started.

Home Care Will Help!

CareFor’s home care services support older adults before, during, or after a TIA or stroke in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Monitoring for changes in condition and arranging for immediate emergency medical treatment if any concerning signs are noted
  • Offering transportation to medical appointments and procedures
  • Ensuring recommended lifestyle modifications are followed by preparing nutritious meals, motivation for recommended physical fitness plans, etc.
  • Providing medication reminders so meds are taken precisely as the doctor has directed
  • And much more

Call us at (512) 338-4533 to request your free in-home consultation to learn more about our Lakeway home health services and in-home care in the surrounding areas.