Mild Stroke: Signs & Symptoms

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

We are going to get an understanding of what a mild stroke is and the signs and symptoms associated with a mild stroke. In this lesson, we will learn how to easily identify stroke signs.

Mild Stroke

The brain is in charge of so much within the body that most people want to protect it at all costs. We don't often associate problems with the brain with the word 'mild.' How can you associate the two since the brain is so crucial to so many bodily functions? Well there is one instance when the word 'mild' and brain go together.

A mild stroke is a temporary loss of blood supply to the brain that doesn't cause any permanent brain damage or brain tissue death. Mild strokes are formally called transient ischemic attacks, or TIA for short. You will also hear them referred to as mini-strokes.

Mild strokes are caused by a blockage in an artery in the brain
Diagram showing how a mild stroke occurs

This is caused by some type of blockage in one of the arteries that supplies oxygenated blood to the brain. The blockage resolves itself quickly, which is why it doesn't cause a full blown stroke. The signs and symptoms that occur with a mild stroke may last for just a few minutes or up to a day. After that point, everything will seem normal again.

The signs and symptoms of a mild stroke are very important, because it could be a sign that a much larger stroke is coming. Let's look at the most common signs and symptoms that occur during a mild stroke.

Signs

The signs of a mild stroke are the things that others can see or measure that indicate that you are having a mild stroke. Mild strokes and full strokes will often have the same signs. The difference is how long they last. There is an acronym that can be used to identify stroke signs: FAST.

FAST is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke
Picture of FAST in big letters

F is for the face. One side of your face will often sag when you have a mild stroke. It is easiest to see when you smile. One side of the mouth will smile while the other side stays in the normal position.

A is for the arms. You should hold your arms out in front of you. If one arm appears to be lower than the other when you are attempting to hold them out together, then this could indicate that you are having a mild stroke.

S is for speech. The interruption in blood flow to the brain will likely cause your speech to be altered one way or another. Some people start to slur their words much the same way that a person under the influence of alcohol does. Other people may experience dysphasia, which is difficulty speaking, or aphasia, which is inability to speak.

T is for time, which isn't a sign even though it's a part of the acronym. The T is to remember that the above signs let you know that it is time to call for emergency help. So just remember FAST when you are trying to determine if you or someone else is having a mild or full stroke.

Symptoms

Almost anything that goes wrong with the body will also cause things to occur that only the person experiencing the problem can detect. These are known as the symptoms of the condition.

It is very common to experience numbness, which is a loss of sensation, on one side of your body when you have a stroke. The numbness will happen on the opposite side of the body from where the mild stroke is occurring. Tingling seems to go hand-in-hand with the numbness. Numbness and tingling are one of the most obvious and biggest indicators of a stroke.

You may realize that you are really tired or fatigued for no apparent reason. This is going to be due to the lack of normal oxygen going to the brain. Any time the brain doesn't get enough oxygen, you will feel tired, and your body won't feel up to doing much. This is an effort by your body to decrease activity and conserve whatever oxygen is present for the brain.

If your brain does not have the proper amount of oxygen, you could have dizzy spells and be confused. How severe the dizzy spells and confusion are will depend on which part of the brain is being deprived of oxygenated blood. You will probably have a headache as well due to the lack of oxygen.

Another symptom that is closely related to a stroke is feeling very weak. It may feel as though you cannot support your body. Your body may feel very heavy to you when you stand up or like you can't hold up parts of your body such as your arms and head.

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