A stroke is a medical emergency caused by an obstruction in blood flow. When an organ is deprived of vital oxygen, the body’s systems begin to shut down. Although strokes usually happen without warning, certain signs may appear days or weeks before a stroke.
Strokes are often portrayed as emergencies that come out of nowhere, but some people may experience warning signs in the time leading up to a stroke.
In fact, according to the Premier Center for Neurology, about one in three people who have a pre-stroke will eventually develop a full-blown stroke.
Pre-stroke or mini-stroke are general terms used to describe transient ischemic attack (TIA).
A transient ischemic attack is triggered by a temporary disruption of the blood supply to a part of the brain.
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Although a TIA lasts only a few minutes and does not cause permanent damage, it can be a warning sign that a possible stroke “may happen in the future.”
“In some cases, this can happen after a few hours or days, or even after several years,” explains the Premier Neurology Center.
Symptoms of a pre-stroke may mirror those of a real stroke, including:
- Weakness and/or numbness of the face, arms, or legs, usually on one side of the body
- Slurred or garbled speech
- Blindness or double vision in one or both eyes
- Loss of balance and/or coordination.
The reason these “early” signs are like a full-blown stroke comes down to what is causing both of these health problems.
An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks the blood supply to part of the brain. The same thing happens during a stroke.
However, this blockage is temporary in the case of a TIA, so you will see symptoms that only last a few minutes.
The Chief Neurological Center adds: “While these symptoms of a mini-stroke are usually short-lived and typically last one to five minutes, it’s important to see a doctor right away for prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent a full-blown stroke.”
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The medical center is not the only public health authority to warn of “early” symptoms of a stroke, which may appear before a medical emergency is called.
According to Cardiac Screen, some people may experience stroke warning symptoms “days before a major stroke.”
Studies even show that 43 percent of stroke patients experienced symptoms of a mini-stroke “a week before” a major stroke.
Other signs you may experience before a full stroke include headache, numbness, or tingling.
How to prevent a stroke
From cutting back on salt to quitting smoking, lifestyle changes can be very effective in preventing strokes.
The NHS recommends a low-fat, high-fiber diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
It’s also important not to overdo the salt, as common seasoning is the “biggest” cause of high blood pressure, which is a precursor to stroke.
In addition, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, and exercising can help.