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Stroke or TIA?

Symptoms of Stroke or TIA

What exactly is a TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack?

A TIA is a transient stroke that will last for only a few minutes. It happens when ever the blood supply to any part of the brain is interrupted for a brief amount of time. The symptoms of a TIA usually are sudden and are similar to those of a stroke however; they do not last as long. On average, the symptoms of a TIA disappear within an hour, although there are reports that some may last as long as 24 hours.

TIA symptoms include the following: numbness or a weakness of the face, arm, or leg, and may be present on one side of the body; there may be some confusion or difficulty in talking or understanding someone’s speech; one could experience trouble seeing in one or both eyes; and have a difficult time with walking, develop dizziness, or lose one’s balance as well as coordination.

What exactly is a Stroke?

A Stroke is a “brain attack”! It is an event where vital blood and oxygen to the brain cells that control all that we do is cut off. Strokes may occur when arteries are blocked for any variety of reasons; blood clots, aneurisms, or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. The symptoms of a Stroke are similar to those of a TIA, however, these symptoms tend to be long lasting as cells of the brain have become damaged due to the lack of blood and oxygen that allows normal physiology to ensue.

What then do we do to prevent a TIA or a Stroke?

We have to avoid the basic risk factors that lead up to either event. The National Stroke Association’s Stroke Prevention Guidelines list the following:

  • Know your blood pressure as high blood pressure is a leading cause of strokes.
  • Determine if you are affected by atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation may cause blood to collect in the chambers of your heart and this blood then may form clots that could lead to a stroke.
  • If you are a smoker, stop. Studies show that smoking doubles the risk for one having a stroke.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • Control your cholesterol. A high cholesterol number may indirectly increase stroke risk factors by putting you at a higher risk of heart disease which is an important stroke risk factor.
  • Diabetes is a risk factor. Simply having diabetes puts one at an increased risk factor for having a stroke.
  • Exercise. Thirty minutes a day can improve your health in ways to lower your risks of having a stroke. Control your salt intake. By controlling one’s sodium level one directly will affect positively, one’s blood pressure.
  • Circulation problems must be monitored. Your doctor will be able to determine with testing procedures if one has any circulatory problems requiring medical management.

If you experience symptoms for only a brief or short time and then they disappear, you may be having a TIA. While TIA’s are not strokes, they indicate serious underlying stroke risks and are a powerful warning that a full stroke may soon follow. Remember that only a physician can tell for sure if you are experiencing a stroke or a TIA, therefore its imperative that one seek immediate medical attention when and if one experiences symptoms relating to a stroke or TIA.


Jean McConnell, MS, PT, ATC is the owner of Pinnacle Health Concepts physical therapy located in Boardman, OH. You may reach her at 330-480-9362.

Physical Therapy Office

Jean McConnell-Copploe, MS, PT, ATC

Jean has over the course of her professional career worked with high school, collegiate, and professional athletes as an athletic trainer and physical therapist. She has gained experience in acute care, nursing home and outpatient physical therapy settings.

Pinnacle Health Concepts moved their office from the YMCA in downtown Youngstown in 2015 to better accommodate their patients. Now located in the South Bridge offices on Rt. 224 they are easily accessible from Youngstown, Boardman, Canfield and surrounding areas.

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