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A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is often called a mini-stroke. It occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain briefly stops. As the name suggests this is transient, which means the condition self resolves. Nevertheless it cannot go without treatment and is a medical emergency. Not only is it pretty hard to tell the difference between TIA and stroke, but it can also be a precursor to a stroke, and stroke risk greatly increases once people have had a TIA.
People can expect a lot of TIA treatment, beginning when they get to the hospital. Doctors will first need to diagnose the condition, and once they have they may recommend a number of options. Most people will at minimum need to take medications that prevent blood from clotting. These medications could include aspirin, warfarin, or drugs like Plavix®.
The primary cause of TIA is often atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries. Doctors may recommend TIA treatment that includes surgery to open arteries or they may suggest stenting of certain arteries to keep them open, which is often performed via catheterization. Other cardiac conditions like high blood pressure usually will need to be addressed and medications may be given to control blood pressure. High cholesterol levels will require treatment with medications called statins, diet modification or a combination of the two. Statins are usually preferred and may even be prescribed for patients without high cholesterol levels since they’ve been shown useful as stroke preventatives.
Another condition that requires treatment and raises risk for TIA is diabetes. People can expect that if they have untreated diabetes, this will quickly be remedied with treatment. Getting blood sugar levels under control may involve a combination of medicine and diet therapy.
People don’t usually require physical therapy during TIA treatment, but they often need counseling on how to live more healthily to prevent TIA or strokes in the future. Doctors or other health professionals may work with patients to help them understand healthy dietary practices. Getting exercise, as per doctor recommendation, is equally important. Patients can certainly expect TIA treatment to involve counseling or tobacco, alcohol and drug abstention since these may increase risks for more episodes or for real strokes.
TIA treatment can be very involved, including a combination of medicines, recommendations on behavior changes, and surgery or other medical procedures. It can seem overwhelming at first because there may be so many things to learn about all the different kinds of care that is required. It can help to not only listen to what doctors and medical professionals say, but also to do some reading online. Organizations like the American Heart Association have lots of good literature available to help patients understand TIA and its implications for future living.
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