Mini strokes are quite common among the elderly, but they are often misdiagnosed as other diseases. If you are caring for a family member or loved one, it’s essential that you learn to recognize mini stroke symptoms in the elderly so you’ll know when to seek medical attention immediately. A mini-stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) occurs when the blood supply to the brain becomes restricted or is cut off due to a clot or other blood vessel problem. It often presents similar symptoms to a stroke, including confusion, vision and speech problems, and unsteadiness on your loved one’s feet. Learn about what signs to look out for and how they compare to more severe forms of strokes. Having the right knowledge will empower you to take action quickly.
What Are the First Signs and Symptoms of a Mini Stroke?
- Dizziness or Issues with balance: Dizziness or issues with balance are often the first signs of a mini-stroke. More generally, it’s helpful to know that symptoms of a mini-stroke will vary depending on what part of your brain is affected, meaning that you can sometimes have specific symptoms but not others. Also, keep in mind that you should always see a doctor right away if you experience anything unusual, particularly any signs common to strokes (e.g., weakness in one side of your body).
- Confusion: A person with a mini-stroke may become disoriented, frustrated, or confused. They may not know who they are, where they are at, and what day it is. Symptoms may last only a few minutes and be reversed if treated immediately. Confusion can turn into more serious cognitive issues such as severe memory loss and dementia if left untreated over several hours.
- Syncope, or fainting: Syncope is a sudden loss of consciousness and muscle control that usually lasts less than 5 minutes. The blood supply to part of your brain is disrupted. You may regain consciousness on your own or need immediate medical attention. A severe fainting episode can lead to other symptoms and should be checked by a doctor right away.
- Intense Headaches: Some people experience intense headaches when they have a mini-stroke. You can’t always tell whether you have a mini-stroke or a migraine headache, but these headaches can last for hours or even days. If you have never had any headache before and it lasts more than four hours, it might be worth going to see your doctor immediately.
Treatment for a Mini Stroke
If you or an elderly loved one has a mini stroke, rest assured that timely treatment can lead to recovery. Hence, it is essential to recognize and understand mini stroke symptoms. While mini strokes can vary widely in severity and presentation, most patients will experience sudden dizziness or weakness on one side of their body that may last anywhere from seconds to minutes. It is vital that you seek treatment for any unusual dizziness or weakness immediately—even if you are unsure if it qualifies as a mini stroke.