Health and Stroke

Stroke Risk After a TIA: What Happens If a Mini Stroke Goes Untreated?

Learn why getting treatment after a TIA is so important 

Sep 13, 2022

Zeit Medical

A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is often called a "mini-stroke." It's a warning sign that you might have a full-blown stroke in the near future. Unfortunately, many people don't realize they are having a TIA because the symptoms resolve without any lasting effects. Having a TIA doesn’t seem like a big deal because the symptoms go away, but it can lead to devastating health consequences in the short and long term. Obtaining proper assessment and treatment can significantly reduce these risk and help you live a healthy life.

The Risks of an Untreated Mini Stroke

What happens if a mini-stroke goes untreated? The risks can be quite high. A TIA is a warning sign that you're at risk for a stroke or other health emergencies. About 15% of people who have a stroke had a TIA first. The risk of having another stroke goes up after a TIA. In fact, about one-third of people who experience a TIA go on to experience a stroke within the year. A more sobering statistic is that  one study found that 26% of people who had a TIA die in the next five years. The risk of recurrent stroke also increases, which can be even more devastating and disabling than a single stroke. Just like a small leak in a dam can lead to major issues if not addressed, a TIA can lead to death and disability if not taken care of.

Getting Treatment As Soon as Possible

Early assessment and treatment after a TIA is key to avoid future health problems. One study showed that patients who were quickly evaluated and started on medications had an 80% reduction in the amount of strokes that occured in the first 90 days. In a follow up study performed 10 years later, researchers showed that the original group who had received early treatment still had experienced fewer strokes and disability compared to the group that didn’t. Experts agree that the sooner you get to the hospital after a mini-stroke, the better your chances are for avoiding serious problems in the near and long term future. Getting proper treatment and evaluation is imperative after experiencing a TIA. Benjamin Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Taking a few simple actions early can be the difference between life and death, a normal living versus a disabling stroke. Having a TIA can be an opportunity to change the future by acting now.

So if you think you are experiencing a TIA, it's important to get to the hospital right away for evaluation. Symptoms of a TIA can include weakness of the arms, face, legs, vision changes, difficulty speaking, or dizziness. If you suspect something is off, don't hesitate to call 911 or get to the hospital as soon as possible. Your medical team will help you modify your risk factors, treat underlying causes, and ensure that you get proper follow up. Doing all of this now can help prevent a catastrophe in the future.

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