Deciphering Between Stroke and Mini-Stroke

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: April 1, 2024

Deciphering Between Stroke and Mini-Stroke

Deciphering Between Stroke and Mini-Stroke

When it comes to the issue of a stroke, every second matters. A stroke, or “brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. This lack of blood can leave brain cells deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This can cause them to die within minutes.

There’s also something called a mini-stroke, or TIA (transient ischemic attack), which mimics the symptoms of a regular stroke yet isn’t as severe in implications.

Understanding the signs and differences of these two events can be important, not just for doctors and nurses. The fact is that every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. Here we demystify the signs of a stroke versus a mini-stroke, to help you further understand what is at risk and what you can do to help.

Recognizing a Stroke

Seconds can save lives when it comes to strokes, and the key to saving those seconds is recognizing the symptoms. Use the FAST acronym as a quick checklist:

F: Face Drooping — Ask the person to smile. Is their smile lopsided or drooping on one side?

A: Arm Weakness — Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward or seem weaker than the other?

S: Speech Difficulty — Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred? Are they unable to repeat the phrase?

T: Time to Call 911 — If they display any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, it’s time to call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

A Mini-Stroke

A TIA, often referred to as a mini-stroke, is different from a full-blown stroke in that the blockage of blood to the brain is temporary, often resolving within a few minutes up to 24 hours. The signs can be similar, but they typically do not cause lasting damage. It is like a warning stroke that needs to be taken very seriously because it can be a sign that a full stroke may be on the horizon.

The symptoms of a TIA are identical to those of a stroke but disappear over a much shorter time frame. They include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, typically on one side of the body.
  • Trouble with speaking or understanding words and sentences.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • A sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Do not ignore a TIA or try to “tough it out.” Seek medical treatment immediately, as almost 1 in 3 people who have a TIA will go on to have a major stroke, often with devastating consequences.

Actions to Take in an Emergency

If you witness someone experiencing the symptoms of a stroke or TIA, the way you respond can be critical in ensuring the affected person receives the urgent care they need. Here are the steps to take:

  1. Recognize the Symptoms

Familiarize yourself with the FAST acronym for stroke and act quickly.

  1. Call for Help

Dial 911 immediately. Do not wait to see if the symptoms pass.

  1. Stay Calm and Reassure the Affected Person

Panicking can make the situation worse. Reassure the person that help is on the way.

  1. Keep the Person Comfortable

If they are seated, ensure they are in a comfortable position. Loosen any tight clothing to ensure they can breathe easily.

  1. Note the Time

Take note of when their symptoms first appeared. This information is crucial for medical professionals.

  1. Do Not Give Anything to Eat or Drink

The person may be at risk of choking. It’s best to avoid giving them anything until a medical professional advises otherwise.

Long-Term Support and Prevention

After a stroke or TIA, support in rehabilitation and ongoing care is crucial. Family members and caregivers play a significant role in the recovery of a stroke survivor, offering encouragement, emotional support, and aiding in daily activities or any necessary therapies.

To prevent future occurrences, managing risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes is paramount. This is often achieved through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication. A person who has experienced a TIA needs to undergo a thorough evaluation to determine the cause and a plan to reduce ongoing risk.

Incorporating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and quitting smoking are keys to reducing the risk of a stroke. For some individuals, a procedure to open narrowed arteries or surgery to correct a heart defect may be recommended.

Knowing the differentiation between a stroke and TIA empowers individuals to take action not only in the critical moments of an emergency but also to create a preemptive action plan for future health and well-being.

What to Teach Children

If you have had a TIA or you have a family history of mini strokes or strokes you are at an elevated risk. If you have children in the home and are often alone with them its vital to talk to them and explain what a stroke is and how to respond. Let them know that if a time ever comes when your words seem wrong – like you are misplacing the wrong words and can’t get out what you are trying to tell them and making no sense, to call 911 and ask them to come immediately.

It can be very scary for a child to witness and can help to know ahead of time how to react.

Understanding is the first step, but it’s the application of knowledge through actions that truly make the difference. Take the proactive approach, educate your family and friends, and together, we can help mitigate the devastating impact that strokes have on individuals and their loved ones.

We are here for all of your cardiovascular care needs – from prevention, health, and wellness to stroke, heart attack, and surgery needs. Visit to learn more and give us a call to schedule by dialing 813-975-2800.

Posted by: Tampa Cardio

On: 01/04/2024

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