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Stroke Prevention After a TIA: What You Need to Know

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), a “mini-stroke,” may not cause permanent brain damage, but it is still important to heed its warning. By understanding and implementing specific prevention strategies, you and your loved one can minimize the risk for full-blown strokes. Keep reading to learn more about TIAs, as well as how to identify and mitigate your risk for strokes.

What is a TIA?

According to the American Stroke Association, a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. The underlying cause of a TIA is a buildup of cholesterol-containing fatty deposits called plaques (atherosclerosis) in an artery or one of its branches that supplies oxygen and nutrients to the brain.

Identifying the Risks

Like with many health conditions, a person’s risk for a TIA increases with age. While some risk factors are well within our control — like cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, using illicit drugs, poor nutrition and lack of exercise — there are quite a few that can’t be changed. They include:

  • Family history: If you have family members that have had a stroke or TIA, your risk may be greater.

  • Sex: Men have a slightly higher risk of TIA and stroke. For women, their risk of a stroke increases with age.

  • Previous TIA: If you’ve already had a TIA, you’re more likely to have a stroke.

  • Sickle cell disease: Stroke is a common complication of sickle cell disease. Sickle-shaped blood cells carry less oxygen and also tend to get stuck in artery walls, hampering blood flow to the brain. Fortunately, with proper treatment of the disease, you can lower the risk of a stroke.

Living with other common medical conditions can also increase your chances of having a stroke. To minimize your risk, work with your care teams to manage your conditions.

  • High blood pressure – It occurs when the pressure of the blood in your arteries and other blood vessels is too high.

  • High cholesterol – Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made by the liver or found in certain foods. If we take in more cholesterol than the body can use, the extra cholesterol can build up in the arteries.

  • Diabetes – Diabetes causes sugars to build up in the blood and prevent oxygen and nutrients from getting to the various parts of your body, including your brain. High blood pressure is also common in people with diabetes. HBP is the leading cause of stroke and is he main cause for increased risk of stroke among people with diabetes.

  • Heart disease – Coronary artery disease, heart valve defects, irregular heartbeat (including atrial fibrillation), and enlarged heart chambers can block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain or cause blood clots that may break loose and cause a stroke.

If you or your loved one are stroke survivors, pay special attention to the sudden onset of dizziness, severe headaches with no known cause, blindness in one or both eyes, slurred speech, difficulty understanding others, and weakness, numbness or paralysis on one side of the body. If you suspect you’re experiencing a stroke, seek treatment immediately.

How Presidio Home Care Can Help Prevent Strokes After TIAs

Whether it’s helping your loved one prepare healthy yet delicious meals, reminding him or her to take their blood pressure medication, or being an exercise companion, our Home Care Aides are ready to work with your loved one’s care team to implement and maintain the appropriate changes necessary to prevent strokes after a TIA. Contact your local office today to learn more.

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