Frankie Muniz tweets that he had 'mini stroke'; warning signs you need to know

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Actor Frankie Muniz says he was hospitalized last week after suffering a "mini stroke."

The former star of "Malcolm in the Middle" wrote on Twitter Tuesday that he was treated Friday for a "mini stroke," which he describes as "not fun at all."

He says he has to "start taking care of my body. Getting old!" but provided no other details.

Muniz turns 27 Wednesday.

A representative for Muniz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Muniz lives in Scottsdale.

Dr. Jack Wolfson of Wolfson Integrative Cardiology sat down with 3TV's Scott Pasmore to explain what a mini stroke (a transient ischemic attack or TIA) is, the warning signs everybody needs to know and what can be done in terms of prevention.

"Twenty-seven is certainly very young, but we definitely see this in hospitals -- patients coming in with similar presentation of stroke-like symptoms," Wolfson said. "I think it's a sign in general that society is unfortunately getting more unhealthy, and they're starting at a younger age."

Symptoms of a TIA or mini stroke include sudden numbness on one side of the body, sudden weakness on one side of the body, sudden vision change, trouble speaking, balance problems and sudden bad headache.

According to the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus, symptoms of a TIA generally last an hour or two although they can last for up to 24 hours.

"More than 24 hours would be classified as a full stroke," Wolfson explained. "Most people resolve without any symptoms from that mini event or that TIA."

Wolfson described a stroke as a "catastrophic event" that often leads to permanent disability. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

"We typically see it in older people," he said.

The main difference between a TIA and a full-blown stroke is that the blockage that stops the flow of the blood to the brain breaks up and dissolves relatively quickly. Because blood flow is restored, brain tissue does not die.

"A TIA is felt to be a warning sign that a true stroke may happen in the future if something is not done to prevent it," reads the MedlinePlus page on TIA. "More than 10 percent% of people who have a TIA will have a stroke within 3 months. Half of these strokes happen during the 48 hours after a TIA."

"TIAs may recur and each TIA increases the risk of a subsequent stroke," wrote Dr. Jerry Swanson on

Wolfson said prevention is key.

"I think if you are doing the right things by your body, those events are less likely to occur," he explained.

One thing Wolfson said he checks his patients for is what he calls "sticky blood" -- blood that's more likely to form clots that could end up lodged in the brain.

"There are some very excellent and easy blood tests to do to identify those risk factors and to treat them naturally."

Regular "Good Morning! Arizona" guest Dr. Art Mollen says major risk factors for heart attack and stroke include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and uncontrolled diabetes. He recommends everybody have these four things checked on a regular basis.