A stroke can happen at any time, and it’s important to remember that the danger isn’t necessarily over when the symptoms of a stroke disappear. It may seem like you’ve gotten off scot-free after having suffered from stroke-like symptoms, but an emergency assessment should still be done to prevent future problems from arising.
This article will explain why it’s essential for those who experience sudden neurological dysfunctions – even transient – to undergo a proper medical evaluation by expert professionals.
A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association has outlined the importance for people who have experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA) to seek emergency assessment to help prevent a full-blown stroke. This statement offers a standardized approach to evaluating people who have had a TIA. This guidance offers advice specifically for hospitals in rural areas that may not have easy access to advanced imaging or have a neurologist on site.
The statement also includes guidance for healthcare professionals to help differentiate between a TIA and a TIA mimic. This condition shares some signs with a TIA but is due to other medical conditions such as low blood sugar, migraine, or seizure. TIA mimic symptoms often tend to spread to other parts of the body and build in intensity over time.
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood flow to part of the brain suddenly becomes blocked. This lack of oxygen results in changes that may last from a few seconds to several minutes. While they can cause transient symptoms such as temporary paralysis or difficulty speaking and writing, these also often resolve completely with no residual damage. However, TIA can indicate a more severe arterial blockage that could result in a stroke within three months after the TIA, so seeking medical attention immediately is extremely important.
Symptoms of a TIA are the same as stroke, only temporary. They can include:
• Facial drooping
• Weakness on one side of the body
• Numbness on one side of the body
• Trouble speaking
• Dizziness, vision loss or trouble walking
Those who are most at risk for TIA include people with cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking. Other conditions can also increase the risk of TIA, including atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease, and obstructive sleep apnea.
Diagnosing a TIA can be difficult since most patients no longer exhibit symptoms by the time they arrive at the emergency room. Unfortunately, the treatment that patients receive who come into an emergency room can vary depending on geographical factors, limited resources at healthcare centers, and varying levels of experience among medical professionals.
For example, said Hardik P. Amin, M.D., chair of the scientific statement writing committee, “Someone with a TIA who goes to an emergency room with limited resources may not get the same evaluation that they would at a certified stroke center. This statement was written with those emergency room physicians or internists in mind — professionals in resource-limited areas who may not have immediate access to a vascular neurologist and must make challenging evaluation and treatment decisions.”
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