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With symptoms lasting for up to 24 hours, transient neurological attacks are a warning sign that cerebrovascular disease (disease of the brain's blood vessels) may exist. Also known as a mini-stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
is a focal (affecting one body part or system)
type of transient neurological attack. Individuals who experience a TIA are at increased risk of having a stroke. Because TIAs can be caused by several factors, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis for proper treatment and prevention plans. The December 26, 2007,
issue of JAMA includes an article about transient neurological attacks.
Signs and symptoms
Sudden loss of vision
Slurred or garbled speech
Trouble finding the right words in conversation
Weakness, paralysis, numbness, or tingling in an extremity (hand, arm, foot, leg) or in the face
Loss of consciousness
Sudden loss of balance or difficulty walking
SEE YOUR DOCTOR, CALL THE EMERGENCY RESPONSE SYSTEM, OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT IMMEDIATELY IF YOU EXPERIENCE THESE SYMPTOMS.
Medical history and a physical examination are important parts of diagnosing transient neurological attacks. Further testing may include blood counts and chemistries, x-rays, computed tomography (CT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Angiography (x-ray pictures taken after injection of dye) may be required to look at the brain's blood vessels. You may see a neurologist (a doctor with specialized education in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases) as part of your evaluation for a transient neurological attack.
Prevention and treatment
Do not smoke.
Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Take high blood pressure medications as prescribed.
Keep your cholesterol and other blood lipid levels in the healthy range.
Manage diabetes and keep blood sugar under good control.
Medications, including those that make blood platelets less likely to form clots, may be prescribed for stroke prevention.
Aspirin may be recommended for preventing strokes and heart attacks.
Surgical procedures, such as carotid endarterectomy (surgical removal of a blockage in the carotid artery in the neck), may be recommended for some individuals to prevent strokes.
For more information
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokehttp://www.ninds.nih.gov
National Stroke Association 800/STROKES (787-6537)http://www.stroke.org
American Heart Association 800/242-8721 http://www.americanheart.org
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on hemorrhagic stroke was published in the October 20, 2004, issue.
Sources: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,
National Stroke Association, American Heart Association, American Academy of Neurology
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients.
To purchase bulk reprints, call 203/259-8724.
TOPIC: NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Transient Neurological Attacks. JAMA. 2007;298(24):2978. doi:10.1001/jama.298.24.2978
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