A mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack) is a type of stroke, accompanied by impaired blood circulation and a lack of oxygen supply to certain areas of the brain.
Also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a mini-stroke only lasts a few minutes and doesn’t usually result in permanent damage. Still, TIAs can be followed by more severe strokes, and because of their short duration, symptoms such as confusion, tingling sensations, and dizziness may be overlooked or ignored. However, it can help to know what typically causes mini-strokes in the elderly so steps can be taken to prevent them from occurring.
Common Causes of Stroke in the Elderly
A mini-stroke in an elderly person is characterized by a severe course, which entails various disorders of neurological and cognitive functions. The main cause of a stroke is the blockage of blood vessels in the brain by a thrombus.
In addition, strokes are distinguished due to causes such as a migraine attack, stratification of the artery wall, and hereditary vascular diseases. You can check out some of the most common reasons below.
While some more serious strokes occur when arteries carrying blood to the brain burst, mini-strokes are likely caused by blood clots forming in arteries leading to the brain. The World Heart Federation says blood clots of this nature may be prevented by:
- Maintaining a normal weight
- Getting regular physical exercise
- Not smoking
If your senior loved one had a previous stroke, he or she may be advised to take medication to minimize the risk of clotting. Some doctors recommend aspirin therapy for this purpose. Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Irving, TX, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place.
High Blood Pressure
Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) is another leading cause of mini-strokes in the elderly. However, this is often a reversible problem. In a Johns Hopkins University study of nearly a thousand older women with hypertension, 40 percent of the participants were able to stop taking blood pressure medications by making healthy lifestyle adjustments.
Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes blood vessels to narrow because of a buildup of a waxy substance called plaque in or around the brain. This buildup can cause blood clots that contribute to mini-strokes. Regular exercise and healthy eating are two of the commonly recommended ways to prevent atherosclerosis. Even basic forms of exercise, such as walking at a steady pace or exercising in water, can be helpful. A home caregiver can help your loved one plan nutritious meals and exercise safely. In-home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.
Carotid Artery Disease (CAD)
Carotid artery disease (CAD) is caused by plaque building up inside blood vessels in the neck that carries blood to the brain. If enough plaque accumulates in the internal carotid artery, the brain receives less oxygenated blood, which can then contribute to a mini-stroke. Your loved one may be able to prevent or slow the progression of CAD by:
- Limiting salt and alcohol intake
- Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables
- Managing chronic health issues
- Limiting cholesterol and unhealthy fat consumption
Read about the best food that prevent stroke in our other article.
Type 2 Diabetes & Excess Weight
Older adults with type 2 diabetes are more likely to be overweight, and both diabetes and obesity are among the top risk factors for strokes and mini-strokes.
If your loved one is diabetic and not within his or her normal weight range, he or she might benefit from:
- Carefully monitoring blood sugar levels
- Taking medications as directed
- Making healthy lifestyle adjustments
- Attending regular physical examinations
Other Risk Factors
You should be aware of certain additional risk factors that could increase your loved one’s odds of having mini-strokes. These risk factors include:
- Family history of TIAs or “regular” strokes
- Advanced age
- Gender—men have slightly more mini-strokes than women, but women have a higher overall stroke fatality rate
- Sickle cell anemia or a history of heart disease
Most often, a mini-stroke occurs suddenly. Symptoms include:
- numbness of hands or feet;
- weakness in the limbs;
- lack of coordination;
- speech problems;
- even urges;
- loss of consciousness for a short period of time.
A mini-stroke can develop from several hours to days. You can understand that changes in blood circulation are taking place by the occurrence of tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), attacks of fear, decreased attention, and loss of orientation.
The appearance of such symptoms is a reason to seek emergency medical help. Timely action will help stop cell death and avoid serious complications.
Mini-Stroke and Dementia
Since different parts of the brain are responsible for different components of cognitive activity, the clinical symptoms of vascular dementia largely depend on which part of the brain is affected. At the beginning of the disease, symptoms may not appear. The timing of the onset of symptoms depends on the cause. For example, after a mini-stroke, symptoms in older people may appear as early as a month. If the etiology (cause) of vascular dementia is based on several mini-strokes, then pronounced symptoms can be observed six months after them.
In general, the clinical picture will be manifested by a decrease in cognitive functions, a slowdown in thinking, its viscosity, and a lack of concentration. As a result, patients acquire professional and domestic maladaptation.
Read about foods that may help prevent or slow down dementia in our Lone Star blog.
Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Irving home care service provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (817) 591-1580.
- What percent of people have mini-strokes?
Approximately 1 in 3 American adults has experienced the symptoms of a mini-stroke. The most common victims of the disease are the elderly. But in recent years, stroke has become more common in young people. It can happen at 30, and at 20, and even at 10!
- How common are strokes in 70-year-olds?
More than 60% of people aged 65+ are prone to stroke. In 30% of cases, recurrent stroke occurs within a year after the first attack. Moreover, the second apoplexy does not necessarily correspond to the first.
- Can mini strokes lead to dementia?
Dementia can be the result of a few massive strokes or, more commonly, many mini-strokes. Some of these strokes seem minor and may not even be noticed.
- How many times can you have a mini-stroke?
They can recur in a maximum of 17% within 3 months after the first attack. With a mini-stroke, a violation of the blood circulation of the brain can last from several minutes to 24 hours, but in most cases no more than one hour. If the symptoms of disorders last more than a day, then a stroke is diagnosed.
- Can an older person recover from a mini-stroke?
There are different degrees of severity of a mini-stroke. If it was unremarkable, then it will not cause great consequences. Sometimes, recovery can take several months.