What you need to know about a TIA, aka a mini-stroke

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Some people call a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is what Texans coach Gary Kubiak suffered on the field last Sunday, a mini-stroke because the symptoms are like those of a stroke, but don’t last as long. 

A TIA happens when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked or reduced, often by a blood clot.  After a short time, blood flows again and the symptoms go away. With a stroke, the blood flow stays blocked and the brain has permanent damage.

A TIA is a warning sign that often suggests you may have a stroke in the future.  According to a report on WebMD, early treatment can help prevent a stroke. If you experience the symptoms, call your doctor right away.

The symptoms of a TIA are the same as symptoms of a stroke.  Most of the time, they go away in 10 to 20 minutes. 

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body
  •  Sudden vision changes
  • Sudden trouble speaking
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance
  • A sudden, severe headache

A blood clot is the most common cause of a TIA. If your doctors suspects a you've suffered a TIA, he or she will order a variety of tests.

  • Pictures of your brain and blood vessels, such as a CT scan, an MRI, a magnetic resonance or an angiogram (MRA).
  • Doppler ultrasound of your carotid arteries
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Blood tests

Tolerance medicines that help prevent a stroke include blood thinners, but there are things you can do -- beyond taking medication -- to take charge of your health.

  • Manage high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Control your diabetes.  Keep your blood sugar levels with a target range
  • Take aspirin or a blood thinner
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise daily
  • Eat a balanced diet


Dr. Art Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St. in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-656-0016 or log on to www.drartmollen.com.