Posted on Mar 03, 2018, 12 a.m.
Transient ischemic attacks are a temporary cardiovascular episode that can have serious and dangerous repercussions, making it important to understand underlying causes and symptoms.
Transient ischemic attacks are commonly known as mini strokes. Transient ischemic attacks cause neurological dysfunction due to a temporary loss of blood flow to the focal brain, retina, or spinal cord. The attack is temporary sometimes lasting no more than a few seconds or minutes compared to a stroke that is caused by a blood clot blocking part of the blood flow to the brain.
Cause of transient ischemic attacks are a buildup of plaque in the arteries known as atherosclerosis, causing a blockage that can slow down blood flow and cause a transient ischemic attack or cause a clot to form and move towards the brain from another area of the body. Typically there is not any permanent damage as a result of transient ischemic attacks, but it can be a warning sign that you are at risk for strokes and other cardiovascular issues. 1 in 3 people who have an attack will eventually have a stroke, with over half of those being within a year.
Some of the risk factors for transient ischemic attacks include a family history of strokes, age, race, high blood pressure, previous history of cardiovascular problems, sickle cell disease, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical inactivity, heavy alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, drugs, and birth control.
Symptoms of a transient ischemic attacks are trouble with vision, speech impediments, inability to focus, weakness, sudden confusion, sudden severe headache with no known cause, dizziness and balance issues, and numbness or contralateral paralysis. Symptoms can last for as little as 5 minutes and can last up to 24 hours, but the effects are always temporary. When symptoms first occur it can appear to be just like a stroke which is why it is so alarming to people.
If you experience an transient ischemic attack you should call 911 and seek medical attention right away as they can happen in rapid succession and be a precursor to a full stroke or heart attack.
Materials provided by:
The Mayo Clinic
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.