A stroke is a medical emergency. When a stroke is suspected, 911 should be called and EMS activated. With the inability to predict the future, there is no way of knowing whether the symptoms will resolve. If the symptoms persist and a
stroke situation exists, there is a narrow window of time to intervene and potentially use TPA (a clot-busting drug) to restore blood supply to the brain and reverse the neurologic deficits. Depending on the hospital and its capabilities, there may be only three hours from the onset of symptoms in which to administer the drugs. In that time, the patient needs to be examined, blood tests need to be drawn, a CT scan of the head needs to be performed to insure that a hemorrhagic stroke is not the cause, and neurologists need to be contacted.
If EMS is not activated and the symptoms resolve so that the patient, family, or friends suspect that a TIA has occurred, there is still a need to seek care urgently. It may be reasonable to contact the primary care provider to help coordinate the evaluation
TIAs cannot be ignored since they are warning signs for a potential future stroke. Ten percent of people with TIAs will have a stroke within three months. The purpose of accessing medical care is to help minimize risk factors to help decrease that 10% risk. Published studies in 2007 suggest that if
blood pressure is tightly controlled, cholesterol levels are reduced with
smoking cessation is begun, the risk of future stroke can be reduced to 2%.
Minimizing risk factors is a life long endeavor. While we cannot pick our family members and control genetic disposition for heart disease and stroke, we can eliminate some risks like
smoking and minimize others like poorly controlled diabetes ,
high blood pressure and
high cholesterol. This prescription takes hard work and effort, but can help prevent narrowing of the arteries and the potential for TIA and stroke.
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