Mini-stroke, or transient ischemic attacks (TIA), are attacks that last for a short period of time, usually only a few minutes. The signs and symptoms disappear as quickly as they appear, usually after about an hour. Although called mini-strokes, the symptoms resemble the onset of a major or full-blown stroke and may be dangerous to the individual, although it causes no permanent damage.
TIA or mini-strokes may be considered a warning to sufferers and can be an indication of a serious stroke which can occur within a few years. TIA is usually caused by a brief inadequate pumping of the blood into the arteries or a blockage of the arteries. On the other hand, a full-blown stroke is characterized by a clot which blocks the blood coming into a certain part of the brain. The cause of both TIA and a stroke is the buildup of plaques (fatty deposits containing cholesterol) in an artery responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
Sleep and Stroke
A study published in the American Heart Association Journal shows that 13 to 44 percent of cerebrovascular accidents such as minor or major strokes occur during sleep. This is further strengthened by risk factors related to sleeping such as snoring, daytime sleepiness and sleep apnea. The research concluded that both obstructive sleep apnea and snoring could trigger minor strokes experienced during sleep.
The first sign of a mini stroke is the numbness of the face, particularly the facial muscles on one side of the face. The individual may experience the eyes and mouth drooping and cannot move the facial muscles properly. Although these signs may not become apparent during sleep, the individual can experience these signs right after waking up. After awakening, minor impairment in the ability to move some limbs on one part of the body may be experienced.
Sleep apnea, or a disorder exhibited by interruptions of breathing during sleep, can be an indication or a risk of having a mini stroke or TIA. This disorder typically lasts about 10 seconds or more and can occur many times throughout the night. As the attack occurs, sufferers wake up semi-conscious experiencing difficulty breathing, but may not remember the attacks occurring at all once awake.
Difficulty swallowing is another indication an individuals may be suffering from a mini stroke. If during sleep a transient ischemic attack (TIA) has taken place, the sufferer may have difficulty swallowing; gagging or gasping for breath is more than likely once awake, also.