Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More on my Mom's Warning Stroke

My mom had what's called a transient ischemic attack, which is also referred to as a "mini-stroke".

A TIA is a "warning stroke" or "mini-stroke" that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke.

Most strokes aren't preceded by TIAs. However, of the people who've had one or more TIAs, more than a third will later have a stroke. In fact, a person who's had one or more TIAs is more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn't.

TIAs are important in predicting if a stroke will occur rather than when one will happen. They can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke. In about half the cases, the stroke occurs within one year of the TIA.

When my old man gave me the news this morning, he told me my mother's blood pressure was really high. Considering she spent most of her life as a heavy smoker, has problems with alcohol, and has always been a worrier and a hothead, I said "Go figure."

"Actually, the few times she's been to the doctor, her blood pressure was kind of low," my dad replied. "And that's where the problem is: your mom never goes to the doctor, so she has no medical history." Thus no one can tell whether her elevated blood pressure is something that has occurred over time, whether it's a sudden spike, and what the implications are for my mother's health.

It's very important to recognize the warning signs of a TIA or stroke. The usual TIA symptoms are the same as those of stroke, only temporary:

* Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
* Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

The first symptom is what happened with my mom. She was driving home from work, when she started to feel kind of sick. She went into the house and sat down, which is when the left side of her body went numb, she called my dad and they went to the hospital. I spoke to her this morning, and she's feeling better but her body is still a bit insensate. Is that the right word?

My dad says she's OK for now, but I am a bit worried: of my maternal grandparents, Fred died of a heart attack (he smoked a pipe once in awhile, but not much else) and Frieda died of a stroke (I don't believe she was a smoker). My mom's been off the tobacco for at least 8 years, and she's always been pretty active: she's an avid gardener, and while you wouldn't think that counts as physical exercise, you would be wrong.

I just did a google search to see if I could learn about the relationship between alcoholism and stroke risk, but the results were inconclusive.

I took a personal day on Monday. I should have saved it for today...


Blogger yellojkt said...

Thanks for the link. My grandmother has had several strokes and we are starting to worry about her. She is over 90 and still living on her own, but with a lot of help.

I haven't blogged about FBorFW lately but this post has links to som of my previous articles.

Glad to have you come by.

12:47 PM  

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