Mild Stroke Symptoms
What you need to know about Mild Stroke Symptoms
An invisible danger, many people who suffer one don’t even realize they have had a mild stroke; symptoms often mimic other disorders and are easy to pass off as inconsequential. These mini strokes, however, can be signs of a more dangerous stroke yet to come. For this reason, everyone should be aware of the symptoms of a mild stroke.
What is a stroke?
To understand strokes, it is important to understand the correlation between the heart and the brain. The heart pumps the blood that the arteries transport away to reach various parts of the body. Capillaries exchange water and chemicals between the blood and the body’s tissues, while veins carry blood from the capillaries back to the heart. The blood contains crucial oxygen to different organs throughout the body.
When a stroke occurs, one of the blood vessels that transports different nutrients and oxygen to the brain either bursts or is blocked. The necessary elements the brain requires to function cannot be delivered, and nerves cells that depend on them are unable to work. Within a matter of minutes, nerve cells begin to die off as they become starved for oxygen. Without these nerve cells, the body parts controlled by those nerves are unable to function. Since nerve cells are not able to be regenerated, often the effects of a stroke are devastatingly permanent.
Two types of strokes are possible. Ischemic strokes, the most common type, are those which are the result of a blocked blood vessel, while strokes that occur when a blood vessel bursts are called hemorrhagic strokes. The most deadly type is the hemorrhagic stroke.
When blood flow to the brain is temporarily slowed or blocked so that less blood is delivered to the brain than is normal, a mini stroke can occur. These can happen during the night or through the day. In most cases, people are unaware they have even had a mild stroke. Symptoms appear quickly, and can include:
- Numbness or weakness primarily on one side of the body to the face, arm or leg
- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
- Difficulty in walking, maintaining balance or becoming dizzy
- Sudden difficulty in formulating speech or understanding speech
- An unexpected, abrupt headache with no apparent cause
The symptoms may come and go so quickly that the individual attributes them to some other cause, such as standing too quickly or an inner ear problem. When the mini stroke happens during the night while the individual is sleeping, they often awake fully unaware that anything has taken place.
Because they do not realize they have had a mild stroke, most people do not seek medical attention. However, anyone who is obese, has high cholesterol, high blood pressure or has a family history of strokes should never take any of these symptoms lightly, for they are at the most risk for experiencing strokes. Women can be at higher risk, especially if they are smokers, likely due to hormonal changes. African American women in particular have a higher rate of strokes due to increased blood pressure levels. Age also plays an important role; for every 10 years after the age of 55, the risk of stroke doubles.
Mild stroke symptoms can serve as a red flag to those who experience them, prompting them to seek medical attention before a full stroke occurs. While the symptoms can be barely perceptible, knowing what they are can bring better recognition and understanding of them. Taking precautions against strokes is the best method, as most strokes are believed to be preventable. Keeping blood pressure under control, quitting smoking, getting tested for diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling cholesterol levels are the first steps in preventing stroke.