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Healthwise: Stroke Awareness Month

May 25, 2011

May is Stroke Awareness month and those at Martha Jefferson hospital are encouraging people to pay attention to warning signs. Doctors say it could mean the difference between life and death.

Doctor Alexander Grunsfeld says Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is one of the warning signs of a stroke. TIA is the process where the brain does not receive blood for a short period of time. The blockage causes TIA patients to have all the same symptoms of a stroke patient, such as weakness, difficulty speaking, vision changes or balance issues.

"Symptoms in a patient who has had a stroke may improve or may even get completely better, but when you look at the brain, you see there has been permanent damage and death to the brain," said Grunsfeld. "In the case of someone who has a TIA, when you look at the brain there is no permanent damage."

While symptoms may disappear in a TIA patient, Dr. Grunsfeld recommends patients get to the emergency department quickly.

"The current recommendation is that if you have a TIA, you call 911, go to the hospital immediately. That is because we can do an evaluation and try and find the cause of the TIA and hopefully intervene," said Grunsfeld.

If left untreated, TIA could lead to a stroke as often as 24 hours after TIA.

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