Risk Factors for a Mini-Stroke and Possible Signs
Risk factors are conditions or behaviors that increase your chances of getting a certain disease. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of having a mini-stroke. That's because risk factors tend to "gang up" and worsen each other's effects. Also, the higher your level of each risk factor, the greater your risk of having a mini-stroke. Some mini-stroke risk factors can be treated or controlled and some cannot.
Mini-stroke risk factors that you cannot change include:
- Age (risk of a mini-stroke tends to increase with age)
- Being male
- Being African American
- Having a family history of mini-stroke
- Having had a mini-stroke or heart attack.
Some of the most important treatable or controllable risk factors for mini-stroke are:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia)
- Atrial fibrillation
- Other heart diseases
- Carotid artery disease
- Sleep apnea
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Drug abuse.
(Click TIA Risk Factors for more information on these specific risk factors.)
For a person having a mini-stroke, the symptoms will vary depending on which part of the brain is affected. Examples of specific mini-stroke symptoms can include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, hand, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes (such as double vision, blurred vision, or blindness)
- Sudden trouble walking
- Sudden dizziness or lightheadedness
- Sudden loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Loss of consciousness
- Spinning sensation (vertigo)
- Sudden collapse
- Seizures (in a small number of cases).
If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing possible symptoms of a mini-stroke, do not wait for the symptoms to worsen or improve. Call 911 immediately. It is impossible for you to know whether these are mini-stroke symptoms or something more serious (e.g., stroke symptoms).
(Click Symptoms of a Mini-Stroke for more information.)