Mini Stroke & Stress


A mini-stroke is called a Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA. TIAs have the same causes and symptoms as stroke, but do not last as long and do not result in brain damage. TIAs are your body's way of telling you that you are at risk for a stroke. Like stroke, TIA occurs when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted by a bleeding or blocked blood vessel. Knowing the symptoms of a mild stroke, getting prompt medical attention and removing risk factors associated with stroke will improve your chances of complete recovery. A person with high stress levels can develop high blood pressure, which is a direct cause of TIA and stroke.


  • Weakness related to one side of the body, difficulty moving and difficulty speaking are the primary symptoms of TIA as well as stroke. Confusion and lack of coordination are also symptoms of both disorders. During a TIA, these symptoms will resolve themselves within minutes to hours after onset. The only way to differentiate a TIA from a stroke is to assess the damage to the brain after the attack. A stroke can leave devastating brain damage, while a TIA causes no damage at all. It is essential that you receive medical attention as soon as signs of stroke appear; you may not know if you are having a stroke or a TIA until it is too late.

High Blood Pressure

  • Blood pressure tests help measure the amount of pressure on the walls of your arteries. You have high blood pressure, or hypertension, If your blood pressure readings are consistently 140/90. Hypertension is the primary cause of TIA. Stress and poor diet habits are direct causes of high blood pressure. If you have had TIAs, it is imperative that you make serious lifestyle changes to reduce your stress levels.


  • Exercise will relieve stress. If you have high blood pressure, yoga is a excellent way to decompress. Yoga exercises involve relaxation and tension release. If you suffer from TIAs and also have high blood pressure, be sure to consult your doctor about any exercise regime you plan to undertake.


  • People who suffer from TIAs related to stress must make changes to their diet to lower their blood pressure and stress levels to prevent stroke. Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. Sodium can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Eliminate alcohol and caffeine from your diet. These substances can cause anxiety and exacerbate any stress you already have. Caffeine and alcohol also cause the heart rate to increase for an extended period of time. This increases blood volume and pressure.

Bad Habits

  • Do not smoke if you have experienced a TIA. The risk for stroke and TIA returns to that of a nonsmoker by the time the stress associated with quitting disappears. If you need help dealing with stress associated with smoking cessation, ask your doctor to prescribe a short-term anxiety-relieving medication such as Ativan.

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  • Photo Credit Arning C, Grzyska
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