Learn the symptoms so you won’t be one of them.
Prompt treatment is vital to preventing long-term damage, but lots of people don’t get treatment. Now, a new survey sheds further light on the scope of the problem: An alarming number of Americans may have had a mini-stroke—but didn’t recognize it, a new survey from the American Heart Association suggests.
After surveying 2,040 adults, the researchers discovered that 35 percent of them experienced at least one sign of a mini-stroke, officially called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. TIAs are caused by a temporary blockage in the brain, and generally don’t cause any permanent damage, but they can herald a full-blown stroke in the near future.
Here are the most common symptoms of mini-stroke that people experienced, lasting from a few minutes up until 24 hours:
20 percent reported a sudden and unexplained headache
14 percent reported sudden and unexplained trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
10 percent reported sudden and unexplained numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
10 percent reported sudden and unexplained trouble seeing in one or both eyes
5 percent reported sudden and unexplained confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
After experiencing these symptoms, only 3 percent of the people called 911, the survey found. More commonly, they simply waited until the symptoms went away, rested, or took some kind of medicine.
Not a smart strategy: The same signs of mini-stroke can point to a full-blown stroke, too.
“Ignoring any stroke sign could be a deadly mistake,” said American Stroke Association chairman Mitch Elkind, M.D., in a news release. “Only a formal medical diagnosis with brain imaging can determine whether you’re having a TIA or a stroke.”
Swift diagnosis of stroke is important for treatment and recovery, and quick detection of mini-stroke is vital, too. Because you’re at higher risk of a full-blown stroke, your doctor will work with you on prevention factors, which can include lifestyle changes or anti-clotting drugs.