Mini strokes cause memory problems

TIA (transient ischemic attack) can cause lasting problems

Mini strokes can leave lasting damage

A TIA can strike at any time, and can leave lasting damage

Mini strokes can cause stroke symptoms and can be an indication that cognitive and memory problems will follow, according to recent research published in the June 19, 2013, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. This applies even when the person does not have a full blown stroke.

It has long been thought that TIAs (transient ischemic attacks, or mini strokes) might cause some of the same problems associated with a full blown stroke, but this has been difficult to verify. Mini strokes have been traditionally thought to leave no permanent damage, but this now seems to be very much in question. Previously, the only way to ascertain any damage was by the use of expensive MRI scanning.

MRI scans were the only way … till now

The study author, Brendan J. Kelley, MD, of the University of Cincinnati, said

“‘Silent strokes’ that cause small areas of brain damage have been tied to memory and thinking problems, but it has been difficult to study these ‘silent strokes’ due to the cost and inconvenience of obtaining brain MRIs,” adding “With this study, we found that a quick, seven-question test can be a cost-effective tool to help identify people at increased risk of developing dementia.”

Research into mini strokes covering two years

The study covered two years, during which the participants completed a short questionnaire at the start and every six months thereafter, part of which consisted of asking about TIA symptoms. During the study, participants’ memory and thinking skills were also regularly tested. Those studied had an average age of 64, had never had a stroke, and reported no existing memory problems. They numbered 23,830.

The study found that those who experienced stroke symptoms were more likely to develop memory and cognitive problems. It underlined the advisability of discussing these symptoms with your doctor, even if the symptoms are fleeting.

“These symptoms can be a warning sign that a person is at increased risk of stroke or problems with thinking or memory,” said Kelley.

Be aware of the danger of TIA damage


It’s important to be aware of the potential danger of mini strokes. While the damage caused may not be in the same league as that of a full blown stroke, it should not be ignored. Many people who suffer a transient ischemic attack think of it as little more than a ‘wobble’, something to be shrugged off and ignored. This could be a costly mistake.

Any time brain tissue suffers an interruption of the supply of oxygen-rich blood, that tissue is likely to suffer.

If you feel that you’ve had a mini-stroke, don’t just shrug it off.
Discuss it with your doctor at the earliest opportunity.


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