Understanding Your TIA Risk
Carotid Artery Disease
The carotid artery is the main artery between the heart and brain. Fatty deposits found in the carotid artery could block this important blood supply.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. People with moderate to severe sleep apnea are more likely to have a TIA or stroke than those without the condition.
Heavy Consumption of Alcohol
High alcohol consumption is another modifiable risk factor for TIA. Generally, an increase in alcohol consumption leads to an increase in blood pressure. While research scientists agree that heavy drinking is a risk for TIAs and strokes, in several research studies daily consumption of smaller amounts of alcohol has been found to provide a protective influence against TIAs, perhaps because alcohol decreases the clotting ability of platelets in the blood.
The use of illicit drugs, such as cocaine, can cause a TIA or stroke. Marijuana smoking may also be a risk factor for a TIA. Other drugs, such as amphetamines, heroin, and anabolic steroids (and even some common drugs, such as caffeine and L-asparaginase and pseudoephedrine found in over-the-counter decongestants), have been suspected of increasing the risk of TIAs and stroke.
A Summary of TIA Risk Factors
Risk factors for TIA are conditions or behaviors that increase a person's chances of developing the disease. While certain risk factors for TIA cannot be changed, it is important to realize that you do have control over many others.
Regardless of your age, background, or health status, you can lower your risk of having a TIA -- and it doesn't have to be complicated. Protecting your blood vessels can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, whipping up a good vegetable soup, or getting the support you need to maintain a healthy weight (see TIA Prevention for more information).