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How to Spot a Mini Stroke

August 9th, 2018

By: Amy Adaniel

As a family caregiver, you may be aware of the signs of a stroke, but would you recognize a mini-stroke? The symptoms aren’t as dramatic as those of a full-blown stroke, so they can be easy to mistake for something else. In addition, the symptoms may disappear on their own. But, even if they do, it’s still important that your aging family member receives immediate medical attention.

What is a Mini Stroke?

The medical term for a mini stroke is transient ischemic attack, or TIA. A TIA occurs when a blood vessel feeding the brain becomes blocked. Unlike a full-blown stroke, though, the blockage is only temporary. The blockage clears itself and the symptoms disappear. 

Although the symptoms are only temporary, caregivers should still ensure the older adult sees a doctor as soon as possible since a TIA is often a warning sign of an impending stroke. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, one third of all people who suffer a TIA go on to have a stroke.

Mini Stroke Symptoms

Usually, a TIA lasts for just a few minutes. Within an hour, all of the signs and symptoms will have disappeared. The symptoms are similar to those of a stroke. They include:

  • Speech that is slurred or difficult to understand.
  • Difficulty understanding what other people are saying.
  • Weakness, numbness, or paralysis on one side of the body, such as in the face, arm, or leg.
  • Vision changes, like blindness in one eye or seeing double.
  • Balance problems, dizziness, or lack of coordination.
  • A severe headache that comes on suddenly.

To help you remember the symptoms of stroke and mini stroke, the National Stroke Association recommends using the acronym FAST, which stands for:

  • Face: Look for drooping in one side of the face. Ask the person to smile and observe how their face moves.
  • Arms: Instruct the older adult to raise both of their arms. If one arm drifts down, this is a sign of a stroke or mini stroke.
  • Speech: Request that the older adult repeat a simple sentence after you. Listen for slurred words or difficulties speaking.
  • Time: Timing is crucial. Call 911 immediately.

If you are a caregiver to an older adult who is at risk for a stroke or who has had a TIA in the past, talk to the doctor about ways you can help them to reduce their risks. If the older adult has had a stroke, home care can assist family caregivers with taking care of them. Home care can assist the older adult with daily activities like dressing, eating, and grooming. They can also prepare meals, help clean the house, and, most importantly, keep your loved one safe while you are away.


If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Caregivers in Boynton Beach, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At BrightStar Care Today! 561-921-0550.