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Can a TIA have residual effects?

8 answers | Last updated: Jul 24, 2015
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mom had what was diagnosed as a transient ischemic attack last year, but ever since, she's had speech and memory problems. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia, but could the TIA have caused any permanent damage?


Caring.com User - James Castle, M.D.
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James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.
92% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

By definition, a TIA should cause symptoms that last no more than 24 hours. If your mother is still having symptoms from an event that took place last year, this See also:
Is it normal for dementia patients to lose their ability to speak?

See all 581 questions about Stroke
would be considered a stroke, not a TIA. That said, with regards to vascular dementia, a TIA can cause damage to the brain that is not noticeable to the patient but can be seen on radiologic imaging. Much like waves wearing down a stone on a seashore, an individual wave may cause no noticeable damage, but over time erosion can occur. Therefore, if your mother is suffering from vascular dementia, she should be evaluated for stroke and TIA risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and diet. These risk factors should be aggressively controlled for the safety of her cognitive health. Limiting the number of TIAs and small strokes she suffers will slow down the progression of your mother's illness.


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20% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

My mom had a TIA (the Dr.s said) in 6/08 and has major short term memory loss and mobility issues. Her brain scans showed some damage from the incident. None of the doctors has ever said it wasn't a TIA so am surprised to read the expert's response. Everything I've heard and read points to there being possible long term or permanent problems associated with both TIAs and strokes. I do wonder if my mom is having vascular dementia and will check with our doctor on this. But in answer to your question, not being a doctor but a daughter/caretaker, I see that there are permanent side effects to TIAs per my mom's experience. Bless you & hang in there.


25% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

The doctor is absolutely correct. The T in TIA stands for Transient. It's not transient if post stroke symptoms continue. Most of us don't have one TIA, however, we have several (or many,) but the analogy to waves is right on--there can be cumulative damage. There are such things as small strokes, though, that leave long-term damage, even if you Moms remember them only as a bad headache, or some tingling in an arm.

The general term "dementia" is a term for a cluster of symptoms, not really a diagnosis. (Sort of like high blood pressure--a symptom of many diseases.) But vascular dementia is a very real, very scary, diagnosis just like any other cause of dementia symptoms, including Alzheimer's. What ever vascular problem--spikes in blood pressure, small bleeds, narrowing of the blood vessels, etc--is causing the dementia will continue to bring more decline until it is addressed, and, even then, the damage may be done.

Having had a small stroke recently, I can tell you it got my attention and I will be modifying eating and exercise habits!


A fellow caregiver answered...

Just sharing. I am 52 years old, diabetic and hypertensive. I already had four (4) episodes of TIA in the year 2010 (Jan to March), and each time, the common symptom was numbness in the legs, arms and face. After those episodes, the uncomfortable feeling that the face is somewhat like thick is always there. I also developed a small fibre neuropathy. There is always a tingling sensation all over my body. A doctor said that this maybe a cause of diabetis.


40% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

I had two TIAs in 2008, one in Feb and the other in Sept. I take aggrenox to prevent any more from happening. I took aggrenox when I had the first one and later in Sept skipped a few capsules and had another one. So my doctor says TAKE THE CAPSULES . I do and haven't had any more. They do give me a odd head pain that comes and goes. I am now 54 years of age. I read here you have a 1 in 3 chances of having a more serious condition. Could be worst with a 2 in 3 chances.


A fellow caregiver answered...

My mom had a tia 2 years ago she has no memory of 2 months prior or the incident itself . She came home 5 days later not able to walk or bathe without assistance her speech was slurred and she was hard to understand . Tia was caused by pain in the thoracic spine caused by a herniated disc .pain raises blood pressure which caused the tia .she got very frustrated after coming home due to memory loss,not being able to take care of herself mixing up her grandchildren names we had to lock up all medication and she was not left alone due to her mental state. Rehab was not an option due to her abuse as a child to many horror stories about abuse in rehab and nursing homes .. I know a lot of people don't have the means to keep a loved one home but please make sure that they are taken care of where they are. The side effects are still noticeable from time to time cognitive to her signature not being the same. Just be very patient with all that have had a tia it is very frustrating for them .. also puzzles and word games do help mentally and if they have e writting issues make them write something every day but start off small. I'm still worried that she will have another keep close check of your blood pressure and don't be stubborn about taking your medication . A tia or stroke is not a fun thing to go through as the patient or the family.


A fellow caregiver answered...

Please help i had two TIA,s im 42 i have a hard time remembering every thing i feel spacey i also have problems putting words into sentences all i take its two aspren a day i need to no should i see a different dr I'm lost help please


A fellow caregiver answered...

I find that the Internet is a great place to get a good answer to many questions. I am 67 and I had a couple of what the dr diagnosed as T.I.A.'s and now I have balance issues and short term memory loss like having words on the tip of my tongue, but for the life of me I can't spit them out. The really bad part is when folks try to help you find the word, it just makes it worse, all the word banging around in your head. Anyway, have a good time searching the internet, you might pick up some useful information as I did.