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Mini Strokes: Major Health Threats
Date:11/18/2007

90% of people miss out on critical early treatment period, study finds,,,,

SUNDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors call them transient ischemic attacks, but they're more commonly known as "mini-strokes."

But make no mistake -- they can be deadly.

What's worse, many people who suffer such an attack rarely seek medical help. Just one in 10 people who experienced symptoms of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) sought the proper emergency care, a recent study published in the journal Stroke found.

Urgent care is critical, because some people who suffer TIAs will have a major stroke as soon as a day or two after the mini-stroke.

"People need urgent medical attention not for the symptoms that have passed but for what might be coming. Many people don't have a TIA before they have a stroke, so, in a sense, it's fortunate to have one. Now you have a chance to intervene," said Dr. Keith Siller, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Care Center at New York University Medical Center.

A transient ischemic attack occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is temporarily blocked. When this occurs, symptoms come on suddenly and last anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. Symptoms may include:

  • Sudden loss of speech or the ability to understand others.
  • Rapid onset of weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially if it occurs on only one side of the body.
  • Sudden loss of, or change in, vision that may occur in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden difficulty walking or maintaining balance.

One thing you may not feel with a stroke is pain.

"Pain is not the right thing to look for in stroke," said Dr. Christian Schumacher, a neurologist at the Stern Stroke Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "People expect that like a heart attack, which is often painful, that stroke will cause pain. But stroke
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