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Symptoms of a Mini-Stroke

Like those seen with a stroke, symptoms of a mini-stroke usually occur suddenly and may include trouble speaking, loss of balance, and confusion. The difference between symptoms of a stroke and those of a mini-stroke is a matter of duration. Stroke symptoms last for at least 24 hours, while mini-stroke symptoms often go away within 30 minutes.

Symptoms of a Mini-Stroke: An Introduction

A mini-stroke (also known as a transient ischemic attack or TIA) is a condition that results from a temporary lack of blood flow to a specific part of the brain. It differs from a stroke because of its duration. Mini-stroke symptoms typically last only a few minutes; in most cases, symptoms go away within 30 minutes, but can last for up to 24 hours. By definition, stroke symptoms last for at least 24 hours.

Specific Mini-Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms of a mini-stroke are distinct because they strike quickly. However, the specific symptoms will vary based on which part of the brain is affected. Symptoms of a mini-stroke can include a sudden appearance of:
  • Confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, such as double vision, blurred vision, or blindness
  • Trouble walking or dizziness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body).
Other mini-stroke symptoms that are less common but still important include:
  • Sudden nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Brief loss of consciousness (such as fainting).

Responding Quickly to Symptoms of a Mini-Stroke

If you believe someone is having a mini-stroke -- if he or she suddenly loses the ability to speak, cannot move an arm or leg on one side, or experiences facial paralysis on one side -- call 911 immediately. Do not wait for the mini-stroke symptoms to worsen or improve. It is impossible for you to know whether these symptoms are the result of a mini-stroke or stroke.
It's important to be able to recognize the symptoms of a mini-stroke or stroke. Often, a mini-stroke is a warning sign that a person is at high risk for a serious stroke. In fact, one-third of people who have a mini-stroke will go on to have a stroke within five years; however, treatment can significantly reduce this risk.
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