Symptoms of a Ministroke in the Elderly

Elderly patient being scanned
Senior man getting an MRI (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A ministroke is also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). While many of the symptoms of a TIA are the same as a stroke, the damage produced as the result of a ministroke is not permanent. If the symptoms last longer than 24 hours or the damage is permanent, physicians will classify it as a regular stroke. The main concern with ministrokes is that each one a patient experiences increases his risk of developing a regular stroke in the future. The symptoms are mild, and an elderly person, particularly one living on her own, may suffer multiple TIAs without anyone realizing it.

Unexplained Bumps and Bruises

This can be a sign an elderly person is experiencing periodic balance issues that are a symptom a ministroke. Someone experiencing a ministroke may stumble or fall over. He may become suddenly dizzy and collapse. His coordination may suffer, so look for broken dishes.

Vague Health Complaints

Neurological symptoms of TIAs include stiffness in the neck, headache and double vision. The symptoms often dissipate before the elderly person becomes concerned, and the pain is typically much milder than with a regular stroke.

Difficulty Communicating

Whether you are talking on the phone or in person, regular conversation can help you gauge how easy communication is for an elderly person. Slurred speech, difficulty understanding others and aphasia are all warning signs of a TIA. Regular conversations will help you differentiate between typical signs of aging and sudden changes brought on by a TIA.

Concerned? Consider an MRI

Many elderly people may experience symptoms of a TIA and not realize it. Memory problems are often associated with strokes, and the minor symptoms of a ministroke are easy to overlook. If you are concerned that a loved one has suffered an undiagnosed ministroke, consult his or her physician about the possibility of conducting an MRI. The MRI results can show any stroke damage that may be present on the brain.

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