Severe headaches are the most common symptom of “mini-strokes” (“transient ischaemic attacks” or TIAs) — especially when they’re accompanied by confusion, trouble walking, or numbness in your limbs. Other symptoms include weakness in your arms, slurred speech and blurred vision. Previously, experts warned that tens of thousands of people are putting themselves at risk of suffering a major stroke by dismissing the symptoms of TIA as a ‘funny turn’.
Damaged grey matter
Now, according to the results of a new study, you need to seek immediate medical attention when you’ve had a mini-stroke, because it could set you up for major cognitive problems down the line.
For the study, over 100 patients had brain scans and took cognitive tests within a few days of having some kind of transient neurological attack, including mini-strokes.
It turned out that as a result of these neurological events, about a third of them wound up with brain lesions, or areas of damaged blood vessels and cells in their grey matter.
That means that even though the symptoms of a mini-stroke typically fade within a day, the damage in your brain may stick around!
And when the tests were repeated six months later, it turned out that those with brain lesions lagged behind the folks without them on tests of what’s known as “executive function.”
That’s the set of mental skills you need to concentrate… plan… organise… and generally get things done.
Now, we know from previous studies that strokes can double your risk of cognitive decline. And the new study suggests that mini-strokes might be your first warning of the “big one” being on its way.
You definitely want to heed it — because if there’s a clot in your brain, it needs to get treated by a doc before it can do permanent damage.
In addition to severe headaches, other warning signs of a mini-stroke include:
- sudden confusion
- trouble speaking or understanding
- numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg — especially on one side of the body
- vision loss in one or both eyes
- trouble walking
- loss of balance or coordination
Even if you only have one or two symptoms on the list, don’t be shy about getting evaluated.
And remember that quitting smoking… staying active… and keeping your weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar in check can all slash your risk of stroke to begin with.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Executive function declines long-term after ‘transient’ brain attacks, published online, reuters.com/article/us-health-brain-tia-longterm/executive-function-declines-long-term-after-transient-brain-attacks-idUSKBN1E92VB