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TIA: The canary in the coal mine

TIA: The canary in the coal mine

Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S. Every year, 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65.

During May, national Stroke Awareness Month, we’ll be sharing information about stroke and things you can do to reduce your risk and increase your likelihood of survival. Today, we’ll look at an event that often proves to be an early warning sign: Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA.

TIA is often called a mini-stroke. TIAs start just like a stroke, but often resolves within an hour, leaving no noticeable changes or deficits. TIA is a warning sign – that the person is at risk for a more serious and potentially debilitating stroke. In fact, about a third of the 50,000 Americans who experience at TIA each year, will go on to have an acute stroke in the future.

There is no way to tell whether the symptoms are the result of a TIA or a full-blown stroke. Therefore, it is essential that anytime someone experiences the signs/symptoms of a stroke, they receive treatment immediately and not make the potentially fatal mistake of thinking it will just go away.

Unlike many illnesses, the symptoms of stroke appear FAST and include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble talking, or understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms indicative of a stroke, do not wait. Call 911 emergency immediately. Do not try to take the victim to the hospital yourself.

King’s Daughters Medical Center is certified by The Joint Commission as a primary stroke center, offering a full range of stroke treatment services, including clot retrieval and clot-busting drugs, neurology, interventional radiology, neurosurgery and intensive care services.