Is there such thing as TIA memory loss?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Is there such thing as TIA memory loss? I was 21 when I had my TIA. I was in good health, a non-smoker and a single mother of two toddlers. At that time, the term TIA was not yet established as far as I know. I was told that I had a mini-stroke and if I was feeling fine, I could just follow up with my family doctor for prevention. I noticed no side effects at the time. Fifteen to twenty years later I noticed my memory was getting worse and worse. I went to a neurologist and ran an EEG and a few other tests, and all showed normal activity. I am 42 now and I struggle daily with memory issues, long-term and short-term. Communication is also tough sometimes, meaning I cannot relay thoughts very well and I forget vocabulary. Is there anything I can do? It has really effected my family life quite a bit. Is there any connection between TIA and memory loss?

Expert Answer

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

It sounds like you could have a serious condition, and based on what you are telling me, I think you need to get yourself to a large, tertiary, Neurology clinic for evaluation, and soon.

Having a "TIA" at age 21is highly unusual.  At that age, you should have been seen by a stroke specialist for that diagnosis to have been made.  A search for clotting disorders, heart defects, and genetic stroke diseases should have been undertaken.  In addition, a TIA, by definition, leaves no lasting damage, so it cannot be the cause of your current situation.  Either you have had multiple other events over the years, or the diagnosis is not correct.

In either case, it sounds like you need an MRI of the brain with contrast to find out what the brain looks like.  In addition, you will likely need blood tests, possible lumbar puncture for cerebrospinal fluid sampling, and possibly genetic tests for Neurological diseases of the young.

In summary, you need to get to a tertiary Neurology center right away.  There is a good chance that whatever you have is treatable, and needs to be evaluated soon before additional damage is done.  Your problem may be stroke related, but it may not, and needs to be evaluated carefully.