Mild Stroke: Treatment & Recovery

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 a working understanding of a mild stroke. This will include a description of the treatments that are commonly used, the level of recovery expected and the recovery timeline.

Mild Stroke

You have really been feeling tired today, so you decide to take a nap. When you wake up, you notice that you don't quite feel right and one side of your face is drooping. Your spouse recognizes that something is wrong and takes you to the emergency room.

Mild strokes are caused by a temporary blockage in the brain
diagram showing how a mild stroke occurs

After a physical exam and a review of your symptoms, the ER doctor tells you that you suffered a mild stroke, also called a transient ischemic attack or TIA for short. This is when there is a temporary blockage in one of the arteries that provides oxygenated blood to the brain. The lack of oxygen is what caused you to feel tired and your face to droop on one side.

You notice that some of the other symptoms you were having are disappearing so you wonder if the trip to the emergency room was even necessary. This is typical for a mild stroke. The cause is temporary so the signs and symptoms are also temporary. The fact that it is temporary also means that there isn't any permanent or long-term damage done to the brain. The ER doctor lets you know that it was great that your wife brought you in because there are some things they would like to do to treat you after having the mild stroke.

Treatment

There are a wide range of things that can be done to treat a mild stroke. It will depend on other factors and the likelihood that you could have a full blown stroke. Your doctor does a full health assessment to determine what lifestyle modifications and medications may be needed. The overall goal of treating you is to prevent blood clots from forming and dissolve any blood clots already present in the blood.

An antiplatelet drug will probably be given to you as soon as you seek medical care after having a mild stroke. This is a drug that helps to break up any blood clots in the body and prevent new ones from forming. One of the most commonly known examples of this type of drug is aspirin. As a matter-of-fact, taking an aspirin as soon as you realize you are having a mild stroke can be very beneficial just like it is for a heart attack.

Anticoagulants are drugs that help to dissolve blood clots, and they help keep current blood clots from getting any bigger. You will sometimes see these referred to as blood thinners. The most commonly used anticoagulant is Warfarin.

One of the main ways to treat a mild stroke is by making lifestyle changes. Some changes will focus on changing your diet to decrease cholesterol level.

An increase in fruits and vegetables are part of treating mild strokes
Picture of fruit and vegetables

More fruits and vegetables and less red meats and fried foods will be suggested. Keeping your cholesterol levels lower is important so that plaque won't build up in your arteries making them narrow. This allows the normal amount of blood to flow through without getting backed up, which may cause clotting.

Other changes will focus on getting you moving more. This is crucial since your muscles help to move blood through the body, which helps to prevent your blood from clotting. Moving more or exercising will also add the benefit of losing weight and reducing stress.

Recovery

The good news about a mild stroke is that you can recover from it fairly easily and ward off a full blown stroke at the same time. Very little, if any, recovery time is needed for a mild stroke. Most doctors would recommend that you continue any activities you currently do and even increase them as a means of facilitating recovery from a mild stroke.

As mentioned earlier, the signs and symptoms of a mild stroke only last for up to about a day at the most. It is very possible that you will be like the majority of people that have a mild stroke and feel better within a matter of minutes to hours.

There isn't any permanent damage done during a mild stroke. A full recovery from a mild stroke is expected each time one occurs. The hope is that the recovery and treatment will keep you from having any more mild strokes or any full blown strokes.

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