When a small clot from an artery or the heart passes to the brain or eye they cause “mini-strokes” or temporary loss of vision. There may be a brief period where an arm becomes weak, the face muscles may be weak on one side, speech may be difficult, and the vision may be lost in one eye. These symptoms often resolve over 24 hours but may recur. These are called TIA’s and they are a warning sign that a more significant stroke may occur without treatment. The risk factors for vascular disease, (blood pressure, cholesterol, stop smoking, diabetic check) should be treated. Recent evidence suggests starting aspirin immediately is very beneficial. Clopidogrel is a similar drug to aspirin that some patients take. In addition the carotid arteries in the neck should be investigated. The easiest way to do this is with an ultrasound scan. A CT or MRI scan can also do this. These are non-invasive scans and can detect significant narrowing of the internal carotid artery, which is a major artery to the brain.
If you have a TIA and a scan shows a significant stenosis of the carotid artery then you are at risk of a major stroke (11% over 2 years). Careful studies have shown that this risk can be reduced to 6% by surgery or stenting. The operation is called a CAROTID ENDARTERECTOMY.
for further information go to the Circulation Foundation section or the Stroke Association