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Mini-Strokes May Be More Serious Than Previously Thought

February 16, 2011 by  

Mini-strokes may be more serious than previously thoughtCanadian researchers have concluded a study that suggests transient ischemic attack (TIA) — or a brief period of blood loss to the brain, often referred to as a mini-stroke — has lasting, maybe even permanent, effects on neurons in the brain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests maintaining a healthy diet of foods low in cholesterol and fat and high in fiber to reduce risk of stroke. It also recommends keeping weight at a reasonable level through exercise and avoiding alcohol and tobacco.

As its name suggests, medical professionals have thought that TIA episodes caused little to no permanent brain damage, but recent test results from a specific mapping procedure suggest otherwise.

Researchers studied 13 TIA patients and compared their test results to those of individuals who have not suffered from a mini-stroke. Clinical evaluation and standard imaging procedures like a CT scan or MRI showed no difference between the brain function of stroke victims and healthy participants. However, when scientists looked at a mapping procedure that used transcranial magnetic stimulation, they saw damage to the affected side of the brain in TIA patients.

Cells on the TIA-affected portion of the brain showed impaired excitatory and inhibitory neurons, making it hard for them to respond to stimuli.

While doctors have known that TIA often precedes a more serious stroke, mild warning signs have often gone ignored by those who experience them. By seeking immediate treatment at the first signals of a stroke — which include numbness or tingling, temporarily impaired vision or inability to speak — individuals may be better able to prevent or minimize serious effects. 

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