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My mother has had two TIA's over the last 6 years. Neither has left any permanent damage. Does this most probably mean the 'Big One' is coming unless we do something?

A TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack is a major warning sign for a stroke. TIAs are like mini-strokes, where there is a loss of neurologic function that quickly returns, usually over a period of few minutes to couple of hours. The loss of neurologic function may manifest itself by paralysis of one side or the other, facial weakness, inability to speak properly, inability to comprehend, a loss of vision, or severe headache. If a loss of neurologic function improves completely and a full blown stroke does not occur, we refer to this as a TIA.

Unfortunately, most patients dismiss the event as a scary episode and do not seek immediate medical attention, only to later develop a completed stroke. A full evaluation consisting of a complete cardiovascular examination and neurologic evaluation is necessary. Looking at the carotid arteries in the neck with ultrasound and doppler should be done in all patients with TIAs. About 40% of these events occur because of plaque built up in the neck which may break off and travel to the brain or may be a place where clots form and travel to the brain. Strokes or mini-strokes may also be a result of heart rhythm problems, blood clots within the heart, or blockages in the small arteries in the brain. About 15% of all strokes are caused by bleeding within the brain but these events are rarely transient and do not manifest themselves as TIAs.

Blood thinners and finding the cause of the mini-stroke enables the physicians to take a proper course of action to avoid the tragedy of a completed stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States today and the major cause of disability. We must do everything we can to heed the early warning signs and prevent strokes whenever possible.


Galichia Medical Group, P.A.
2600 N Woodlawn
Wichita, KS 67220

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