provider of occupational and environmental health clinical services, workplace evaluations and educational programs

The Occupational and
Environmental Health Center
of Rhode Island

OEHCRI occupational and environmental health services to businesses and workers in Rhode Island

Ministrokes: They could be a sign of something more dangerous!

TIAs, transient ischemic attacks, are better known as ministrokes. When they occur they often present with symptoms that can range from numbness, tingling, weakness, difficulty speaking, and changes in vision, to loss of balance, loss of coordination, changes in gait (or ability to walk ), falling, facial paralysis and confusion. In some cases, low blood pressure may be seen before the symptoms of a TIA occur.

These "ministrokes" are the result of a sudden onset of ischemia, the same as a cutoff of the blood supply to the brain, which is transient or temporary. In the case of a TIA, symptoms usually lasts less than 24 hours, usually less than 1 hour, and most commonly last 5 to 10 minutes. Even though there is a slight disruption of blood flow to the brain, and some brain cells die, there could be a decrease in brain function, but not enough to cause permanent loss of any neurological function. A TIA is considered a medical emergency.

The greater danger is that between 4 and 20 percent of people who have had a TIA will have a full-blown stroke within the next 3 months. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or gets clogged. If you have a stroke, you could die, suffer paralysis or have trouble talking or understanding speech Stoke prevention is crucial after having a TIA. Because most people will not have any symptoms by the time they get to a hospital, the diagnosis is made based on the patient’s history, physical exam including a neurological exam, and possibly several medical tests. Blood pressure and an EKG will be checked. Any underlying cause such as high blood pressure, arterial disease or the use of certain medications will be addressed. Treatment may include the use of high blood pressure, cholesterol lowering or blood thinning medications. Follow-up with a specialist, particularly a neurologist is recommended.

General Stroke Statistics

  • About 700,000 Americans will have a new or recurrent stroke this year - that's someone every 45 seconds.
  • Stroke is the nation's No. 3 killer and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability.
  • Over 162,000 people will die from a stroke this year.
  • 14 percent of people who survive a first stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) will have another one within one year.
  • The length of time to recover from a stroke depends on severity. 50 to 70 percent of stroke survivors regain functional independence, but 15 to 30 percent are permanently disabled. 20 percent require institutionalized care at three months after onset.
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