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Causes of Mini Strokes

Mini stroke is a term used by people to describe a medical condition known as the ‘transient ischemic attack’ (TIA). It is a form of stroke or cerebro vascular accident (CVA) that paralyses certain parts of the body for a period of 24 hours. Usually, the symptoms improve dramatically within the 24 hours and in most instances, within few hours of its occurrence.

What is the significance of a mini stroke?

Although this seems like a harmless event, mini stroke is a warning sign for much worse attacks in the future. Thus, a person who suffered from a mini stroke is considered to be a high risk patient to develop a permanent neurological damage following a major stroke. But, when looking into the brighter side of things, having a mini stroke gives the person a second chance to investigate any underlying causes and behaviors which may give rise to the major stroke at a later stage. Thus, it can be certainly used as an opportunity to lessen the risk behaviors and correct any underlying causes which could multiply ones risk of suffering from permanent neurological damage.

What causes a ‘mini stroke’?

When looking in to the pathology of mini strokes, it is evident that the underlying cause is either a blockage in a small blood vessel supplying the brain or else a rupture of a tiny blood vessel. When a small artery supplying certain regions of the brain gets blocked, the cells in that region would be deprived of oxygen as well as nutrients such as glucose. Absence of these elements would mean that the tissues can no longer sustain life and therefore will be destroyed. A similar thing will happen if the tiny blood vessels rupture due to various reasons. However, in a mini stroke, these damages are recoverable following restoration of blood circulation through another means and therefore the cells would gain their functional status before the cells die of oxygen and nutrient deficiency.

What are the reasons for ‘vessel blockage’ and ‘vessel rupture’?

Among the causes that can lead to blood vessel blockage, formation of a blood clot in a previously narrowed artery such as in the case of ‘atherosclerotic plaques’ or ‘fat deposits’, is a main event. At the same time, a clot formed in the heart as in the case of ‘atrial fibrillation’ could also travel down the arteries and block a narrow artery in the brain. Similarly, a clot formed anywhere in the arterial system, can travel through the carotid arteries before it reaches the brain and causes a mini stroke. In certain instances, debris from carotid plaques could also dislodge into the brain vessels and therefore give rise to a blockage. In relation to ruptured blood vessels, high blood pressure is the commonest cause of ruptured blood vessels and can also lead up to a mini stroke.