Signs of a Mini Stroke

Smiling doctor talking to senior woman, motioning to laptop
Mini strokes aren’t a small matter. While they don’t cause the damage that a full-fledged stroke can, there’s no reason to dismiss them. Because these events can serve as a warning sign that a stroke may be coming, being able to recognize the signs of a mini stroke has the potential to save lives.

Recognizing the Signs of a Mini Stroke

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is quite a mouthful, so most people simply use the term mini stroke. However, this type of medical emergency is no small thing. As the Mayo Clinic reports, one in three people who have a mini stroke or TIA will have a stroke in the future. Their risk is especially high in the 48 hours immediately following a TIA. Learning to recognize the signs of mini strokes can help you get help fast and protect the ones you love.

What Signs Can Indicate a Mini Stroke?

As Mount Sinai explains, the signs that can indicate a mini stroke are identical to the ones that can point to a stroke. That’s because both events are caused by an interruption in blood flow to the brain. This interruption can cause various signs:

  • Severe headache without a clear cause
  • Changes in alertness, including sleepiness or unconsciousness
  • Alterations in senses, including vision, hearing, touch, or taste
  • Nerve problems like tingling or numbness
  • Muscle problems like weakness or facial droop
  • Dizziness or coordination issues
  • Changes in mental state, including confusion, memory issues, or trouble reading, speaking, writing, or understanding

What Makes a Mini Stroke Different?

With a mini stroke, the problem is transient, or temporary. The blockage impacting blood flow to the brain normally clears on its own within a few hours, and symptoms normally resolve within 24 hours. With this type of event, permanent damage is generally not a problem. However, it does serve as a red flag that a stroke could be an issue in the future.

A stroke is the result of blocked blood flow to the brain. Here, the blockage does not correct itself. As a result, getting prompt medical care is vital. Intervention is crucial to limit damage, prevent disability, and safeguard life.

How Is a Mini Stroke Diagnosed?

The signs of a mini stroke mimic the signs of a stroke, so there’s no way to tell them apart during the actual event without advanced imaging. If the mini stroke resolves quickly, your symptoms may already be disappearing by the time you reach the hospital, which may help doctors determine what happened. However, even if you think it was a mini stroke, it’s still important to get your suspicions confirmed. After all, these events are significant and can be warning signs of more dangerous neurological problems ahead. Having a suspected mini stroke thoroughly investigated and treated may help you identify steps that you can take to prevent future events.

What Should You Do If You Suspect a Mini Stroke or Stroke?

With a mini stroke, your body is giving you a warning. However, a stroke is different. Experts often say that time lost is brain lost, so a fast response is key. Since you can’t tell by looking at someone whether they’re dealing with a mini stroke or a stroke, knowing what to do if you suspect either type of stroke is important so that you can respond quickly.

Healthline offers a handy mnemonic to keep stroke signs fresh in your mind. If you see these signs in yourself or a loved one, call 911 for aid fast:

  • F is for face. Facial droop or uneven expressions are cause for concern.
  • A is for arms. Arm weakness, numbness, or unsteadiness is worrisome.
  • S is for speech troubles. Slurred speech is a red flag.
  • T is for time. Don’t hesitate. Delaying care when someone is showing stroke symptoms could lead to worse outcomes.

Mini strokes and strokes can certainly be scary. While some might say ignorance is bliss, knowledge offers the power to protect. Knowing how to recognize the warning signs of a mini stroke or stroke lets you get help fast when the people you care about need it most.

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