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Don’t ignore signs of ‘mini-stroke,’ health experts caution

man with headache
Photo: shapecharge/iStockphoto

Dallas – A little more than one-third of American adults have experienced at least one symptom of a “mini-stroke,” yet only 3 percent called 911, according to the results of a survey conducted by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Thirty-five percent of 2,040 nationwide respondents to the survey reported one or more signs of a transient ischemic attack, and 77 percent said they were unfamiliar with TIAs, also called “warning strokes.” Most respondents who experienced TIA symptoms opted to wait it out, rest or take medication.

The most common symptom reported was a “sudden, severe headache with no known cause” (20 percent), and the second was “sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination” (14 percent).

Other symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, leg or arm – especially to one side of the body
  • Speech problems
  • Confusion
  • Vision difficulties in one or both eyes

A TIA can last a couple of minutes or as long as 24 hours. ASA suggests calling emergency medical services as soon as possible, even if symptoms quickly fade. A TIA precedes about 15 percent of full-fledged strokes, and people who have experienced a TIA are at an increased risk of having a stroke within three months.

“Ignoring any stroke sign could be a deadly mistake,” Dr. Mitch Elkind, chair of ASA, said in a press release. “Only a formal medical diagnosis with brain imaging can determine whether you’re having a TIA or a stroke. If you or someone you know experiences a stroke warning sign that comes on suddenly – whether it goes away or not – call 911 right away to improve chances of an accurate diagnosis, treatment and recovery.”

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