Friday, April 24, 2009

talk about tia

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary blood clot in the brain. When you have a TIA, your symptoms are similar to those of stroke and last less than a day, yet most last less than five minutes.1 A TIA may make you feel dizzy or confused, but because it is over so quickly, you may not even realize that you had one.

TIA Can Happen to Anyone

I was a healthy, pregnant 32-year-old when I had one of the most frightening experiences of my life, which lasted an agonizing 40 minutes. It was late winter 2007, and I was in a meeting at work when all of a sudden everything went blurry. This terrible feeling washed over me and I couldn't see my colleagues clearly or spell simple words when taking notes. The right side of my body — my arm, face and leg — went numb. I didn't want to draw attention to myself so I sat very still.

The meeting seemed to drag on forever and I was so confused and scared because I didn't know what was happening to me or if it was going to stop. And then the symptoms went away almost as quickly as they came on. I was relieved to feel okay again, but called my husband and he told me to go to the emergency room immediately.

The emergency room doctor diagnosed me with transient ischemic attack (TIA). I had no idea what a TIA was or what the risk factors for having one were. The doctor gave me some materials to read and my husband and I researched more. We learned that high blood pressure or smoking can increase the risk of having a TIA. Although neither of these apply to me, I learned that TIA really can happen to anyone.

Experiencing a TIA was a wake-up call for me. Now I'm aware of what I need to do to prevent another one, which includes eating a healthy diet and regular check-ups with my doctor. I also get plenty of exercise keeping up with my seven-month-old daughter.

I think it's really important for people of all ages to know the symptoms of TIA — I wish I had known what was happening to me during that meeting at work, and the importance of getting help right away. I want people like me to know that TIA exists and it can happen to them. By knowing the symptoms and what to do if you experience them, you can help reduce the risk of having a TIA or stroke.

Jennifer S.
St. Joseph, Missouri

Having a stroke can be devastating. Almost 70% of stroke survivors will be left with some type of disability. These may include paralysis, vision problems, speech or language problems, or memory loss.2

What causes a TIA?

TIAs are caused by a blood clot that partially blocks normal blood flow to the brain. These blockages usually happen for one the following reasons3: next...