Stroke VS TIA “Transient Ischemic Attack”

Stroke VS TIA “Transient Ischemic Attack”

During our instruction of “Cardiovascular Disease” or CVD for short we get many questions on weather or not Stroke’s or TIA’s are closely related to “Heart Attack’s or Angina“. For this reason we normally teach them at the same time to help our new rescuers understand what to look for and how to react during an emergency caused by a Stroke or a TIA “Transient Ischemic Attack“. Some of the more basic questions asked would be: Is a Stroke or TIA life threatening? Can a person suffering a Stroke regain their lost abilities? Is a Stroke or TIA permanent? What are the symptoms of a Stroke or a TIA? What are some of the risk factors that lead to a Stroke or TIA? We will do our best to help you understand the basics and know what to look for.

TIA “Transient Ischemic Attack”

TIA’s have been termed as a “Mini Stroke” with symptoms that mimic that of a full blown Stroke but are short lived and will subside within a few minutes. TIA’s much like Strokes are mainly caused by similar disorders like Cardiovascular Disease CVD, Atherosclerosis or Hereditary defects. The easiest way to explain what TIA’s are is to picture a clear tube in your mind that lets blood flow through it perfectly, now pinch the tube slightly so that the flow of blood is restricted. If this was within your Brain the Brain Tissue that has the restricted flow of blood would starve for Blood & Oxygen causing symptoms that mimic that of a Stroke this is called a “TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack”. Much like a Heart attack is to Angina the similarities are uncanny. Just like Angina the symptoms of a TIA will be short lived and will normally go away once Blood & Oxygen demand has been reduced or assisted with medication


A Stroke takes place when the Brain or Specific Brain tissue within the Brain is cut off from Oxygenated Blood. This can lead to the death of the Brain tissue leading to a life threatening emergency known as a Stroke. As previously stated any tissue within the body that has a lack of oxygenated blood will eventually begin to decay and die. Using the same description of a plastic tube with blood flowing through it in your mind, now pinch the tube completely off so that no blood can pass through it, the blockage stops the flow of Oxygen rich blood to the Brain leading to the eventual death of the tissue termed as a “Stroke”.

Much like a Heart attack and Angina the difference between a Stroke or a TIA “Transient Ischemic Attack” isn’t much more than an Artery or blood vessel “tube” being restricted and an Artery or blood vessel “tube” being blocked. For many people a TIA is your “Wake Up Call” as your body is now telling you that there are some risk factors that you need to take care of before the TIA “BECOMES” a Stroke.

Symptoms of a Stroke or TIA:

(4 Suddons)

  1. Sudden Headache “Migraine like symptoms” ,
  2. Sudden Weakness “One side of the body more than the other” ,
  3. Sudden Speech Problems “Aphasia” ,
  4. Sudden Anxiety – Slurred or hard to understand speech – Facial Droop “One Side” – Loss of motor skills “One Side“.

Risk Factors:

-Smoking -High Blood Pressure -Poor Diet “Processed Foods” -High Cholesterol -Obesity -Lack of regular Exercise -High Stress -Gender -Heredity -Age.

How to Help:

  1. 1) Have the Person rest in a comfortable position and try not to move as much as possible.
  2. 2) Call 911 “You can not tell the difference between a Stroke or a TIA” the TIA will be short lived about 15 minutes, a Stroke will not as brain damage is taking place and can be permanent or even Fatal. Don’t Waste time trying to figure it out “better safe than sorry”.
  3. 3) Keep the person calm, assist with any medications if they have them and wait for an ambulance or the symptoms to subside.

Weather your daily life or habits fall under some of the risk factors or all of them you should notice that many of these are easily fixed with some changes in personal outlook and removing of bad habits. Everyone want’s to live a long and healthy life, once you know the risks you can take charge of your own life and do what you can to avoid your body failing on you.

We never know what can happen, its always good to be prepared and have the knowledge we need to help those who need it.

“This material is for information purposes only and is taken from The Canadian Red Cross / Alberta Heart & Stroke Foundation & Alberta Health Services. This information should not be used in place of medical, Technical advice, instructor, and/or treatment. If you have questions, speak to your local Physician or Safety Training Facility.”

Just Remember:

Protect Yourself!!! Call 911!!! Don’t Waste Time!!!

Learn First Aid Today & Save a Life Tomorrow with Saving Grace Medical Academy Ltd.