Warning Signs: Responding to a TIA

2015-0310 Stroke Response FAST

Excerpt of Article written by American Stroke Association

According to Dr. Emil Matarese, director of a primary stroke center at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa., both a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and a stroke are caused by a blood clot. Since the body has naturally occurring clot-busting agents, “eventually all clots will dissolve,” but whether or not there is damage depends on how long the clot is in place, Dr. Matarese said. However, because there is no way to predict when a clot will dissolve on its own, time is of the essence. “Whenever you have stroke symptoms, dial 9-1-1 immediately and get to the emergency room so you can be evaluated. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms go away.”

While the vast majority of strokes are not preceded by TIA, about a third of people who experience TIA go on to have a stroke within a year. “TIA is a warning stroke and gives a patient time to act and keep a permanent stroke from occurring,” Dr. Matarese said. “By recognizing TIA symptoms and getting to the hospital, the patient can get help in identifying why the TIA occurred and get treatment — either through medication or surgery — that can prevent a stroke from occurring.”

If a survivor experiences TIA after they have had a stroke, they should go to the emergency room immediately because something in their treatment plan has not worked.

In essence, according to Dr. Matarese, there should be no difference in response to a TIA or a stroke. Although a TIA resolves itself before there is much damage, there is no way to predict which clots will dissolve. Stroke — and TIA — are medical emergencies; dial 9-1-1 and tell the operator you think it’s a stroke and note the time the symptoms started. Remember: Time lost is brain lost.

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs and symptoms of a stroke


Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

Thanks to the American Stroke Association for committing its resources to writing and publishing the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, video, and text I used in this post.

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