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What to Expect From the Doctor After a TIA

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): Page 4

By , Caring.com senior editor
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The doctor will focus on two separate issues: First, what caused the episode, and second, how to treat the cause and prevent future strokes.

  1. Determine the cause of the TIA. Whether a patient goes to the emergency room or schedules an appointment after the TIA, the doctor will probably do one or more of the following:
  • Check the patient's blood pressure to make sure it's within normal range
  • Order a carotid ultrasound to see whether the carotid artery is blocked
  • Test for atrial fibrillation, a condition that can cause blood clots to form in the heart
  • Schedule a CT or MRI scan to look for brain injury
  • Schedule a special CT or MRI to look for narrowing of the arteries in the brain
  • Check for heart disease
  • Check cholesterol levels
  1. Treat the cause and prevent future strokes. The type of treatment the doctor recommends will depend on the cause of the TIA. The doctor may prescribe medication to control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, or slow blood clotting. If tests reveal a blockage in the carotid artery, your friend or family member may need to undergo a procedure to remove the blockage or increase blood flow. Regardless of how the TIA is treated, the patient will need to take steps to prevent a future stroke, including quitting smoking if applicable. The doctor will help you and her come up with a plan to reduce the risk. For other practical tips, see 10 Ways to Help Your Parent Prevent a Stroke.

Although a TIA and the possibility of a stroke may leave you feeling overwhelmed and frightened, there's actually a bright side: You and your family member have been given the gift of a wake-up call. By seeking medical advice, getting the appropriate treatment, and making lifestyle changes, your family member may be able to avoid a serious stroke.