Mini-strokes are often precursors to full strokes. Called TIAs, or "Transient Ichemic Attacks," affect roughly 50,000 Americans each year according to eMedTV.com There can be long-lasting effects from a mini-stroke and, if the patient is not treated right away, a mini-stroke can easily lead to a full stroke with large-scale brain and function damage. EMedTV.com estimates that only one-third of the people who suffer mini-strokes will actually go to a hospital and receive the help they need.
If blood supply to the brain is cut off for too long, the patient may have permanent brain damage in portions of his or her brain affected by the mini-stroke. Brain damage may not be noticeable to the patient, but evident in radiologic imaging. Mini-strokes can be recurrent, accompanied by further brain damage, permanent nerve cell loss and neurological deficits.
Motor skills may be affected depending on the severity of the mini-stroke. Patients may report numbness, paralysis in extremities, or trouble carrying out basic functions of the body. Conditions of the body that caused the mini-stroke must be diminished after the mini-stroke occurs, otherwise it is likely that the patient will have a recurring mini-stroke or possibly a full stroke. Symptoms still appearing after the initial mini-stroke are high blood pressure, facial paralysis, gait problems or motor skill reduction, loss of coordination, numbness, tingling, sensation changes and confusion. Measures must also be taken to prevent the blood from clotting and cutting off blow flow to the brain as well to prevent an additional mini-stroke or a full stroke.
Full or partial paralysis of the face or body may affect speech. Cognitive damage like confusion, disorientation or loss of critical thinking may prevent the patient from speaking properly or he or she may use the language incorrectly in a nonsensical fashion. Slurred or garbled speech is also common.
Optical damage is quite common with a mini-stroke. Loss of vision including blindness has been reported. Double vision, hazy vision and blocked or partial vision also may occur. Like all symptoms of a mini-stroke, these symptoms may disappear after proper treatment and may not be permanent.
With proper treatment, the patient can recover. A patient who is not treated right away after a mini-stroke faces the ever-increasing risk of a full stroke with each year that follows.