A few years ago, a friend came up to me at a public event and asked me to check on her mom who was having problems with her blood sugar.
When I approached her mom, I found her confused and unable to talk to me. Her eyes were open and she seemed to understand what we were saying, so I gave her some sugar and we called a rescue squad. After a few minutes, it became obvious she was not getting any better. When the rescue squad, arrived they checked her sugar only to find that it was normal. That was when her daughter looked at me and said "is she having a stroke?"
My friend's mom was quickly taken to the closest emergency department and evaluated. She was diagnosed with a TIA (transient ischemic attack), or more commonly known as a mini-stroke.
For those of us who were there that day, there didn't seem to be anything "mini" about the stroke. She was not able to talk or respond to us and she told us later that she does not remember anything for about 15 minutes prior to her episode. Thankfully, her memory returned while she was in the emergency department and her weakness slowly got better over the next few days.
So what is a TIA? A TIA occurs when a blood clot temporarily stops blood flow to part of the brain. This causes symptoms such as blurred vision, difficulty walking or talking, numbness in the arms and legs, headache and confusion. Forty percent of patients who have had a TIA will have a major stroke in the future. We see TIAs as a warning sign for a larger stroke and physicians work with patients to make changes to medications and lifestyle in order to reduce the risk of this happening.
Any time you think someone is having a stroke you should call 911 immediately. Do not wait to see if the symptoms pass. Patients who are having a major stroke caused by a blood clot can receive interventions to help reduce permanent disabilities if they arrive at the hospital within three hours or less of when the symptoms started.
Rule of thumb is: if you think you or someone around you is having a stroke, CALL 911 immediately...let the physicians and stroke team decide!
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