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Mini-strokes are a major emergency.

TIAs (transient ischemic attacks or "mini-strokes") often strike with a vengeance, only to disappear minutes or hours later. While TIAs generally do not cause permanent damage, new studies show that almost 10 percent of people with a TIA will have a devastating stroke within seven days, and an additional 20 percent within three months.

People who experience TIA symptoms for more than one hour are among those who may be candidates for more intensive testing and treatment to prevent a future stroke, according to recently released treatment recommendations from the National Stroke Association.

But don't wait. Symptoms of TIAs and strokes are similar. The best advice is to get to an emergency stroke center for immediate evaluation if you or a loved one experiences sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body). Other symptoms include confusion, difficulty walking or talking, or trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

Most TIAs and strokes are caused by a clot or plaque--and can be treated with clot-busting medications that are only effective if administered within three hours after symptoms begin. Other drugs and therapies may be effective, depending on the exact cause of the problem.

Lifestyle strategies to avoid stroke include controlling cholesterol and blood pressure levels (with diet and medications if needed), maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising on most days. Also, consider taking aspirin.

To read more about niacin and statins for optimal cholesterol levels, see page 36. For a list of emergency stroke center locations from the National Stroke Association, visit stroke.org.
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Title Annotation:MEDICAL MAILBOX
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:262
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