Symptoms of a TIA can appear very similar to other health conditions, so if you think you may have had a TIA it is important to see your doctor and have some tests. If you are found to be at risk of a stroke, you can get treatment to prevent it happening.

Don’t be concerned that you are wasting the time of the doctor by keeping an appointment even if you no longer have symptoms. A TIA always needs to be checked out and this can be done using:

  • Brain scans with either computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look for bleeds and damage to tissue in the brain.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) to check how well your heart is working.
  • An ultrasound scan of the carotid arteries to check blood flow to the brain.

If you have had a suspected TIA, you will also be assessed for your stroke risk by taking the following into account:

  • Your age: if you are older, you have a higher risk.
  • Your blood pressure: high blood pressure means an increased risk.
  • How long your TIA lasted.
  • If you have any other conditions such as diabetes, which can increase the risk of a stroke.

Treatment after a TIA

If you are suspected of having a TIA and the tests show your stroke risk is moderate to high, you will be given preventive treatment. This can consist of:

  • Medication to stop blood clots forming, such as aspirin, warfarin, dipyridamole, or clopidogrel.
  • Anti-hypertensive drugs to reduce high blood pressure.
  • Drugs to reduce lipid levels if you have high cholesterol.
  • Better treatment to control blood glucose if you are diabetic.

If the scan results show you have blockages in the carotid arteries, you may need surgery to clear these arteries and reduce your stroke risk. This can be done by:

  • Carotid endarterectomy, where the artery is opened to remove any blockages.
  • Carotid artery angioplasty, in which a wire is passed into the artery to unblock it.

Heeding the warning of a mini-stroke

A key part of reducing your risk of stroke following TIA is to make some lifestyle changes. These can range from stopping smoking or reducing alcohol intake, to losing weight or taking a little more exercise.