Even though the symptoms of a transient ischemic attack resolves in just a few minutes or hours without requiring any form of specific treatment, treatment is required to prevent another attack or a full stroke in the future.
A transient ischemic attack is a warning indication that the individual has a high risk of develop a full stroke in the future with the highest risk in the days and weeks after an attack. A stroke is a serious health condition that can lead to permanent disability and can be deadly in some cases, but proper treatment after a transient ischemic attack can minimize the risk of having one.
The treatment depends on the individual circumstances such as the age and medical history. The doctor can discuss suitable treatment options and the potential benefits and risks. Lifestyle changes can minimize the risk for a stroke aside from medications to manage the underlying cause of the TIA. In some cases, surgery might be recommended as part of the treatment.
There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help minimize the chances of ending up with a transient ischemic attack such as the following:
- Healthy diet such as one that has reduced salt, low-fat and high-fiber including plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit
- Regular exercise at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking or cycling every week
- Stop smoking since it drastically reduces the risk of experiencing a stroke in future
- Limiting the intake of alcohol such as 3-4 units in a day for men while 3 units a day for women
Aside from the lifestyle changes, many individuals who have a transient ischemic attack need to use one or more daily medications to minimize the chances of having a stroke or another attack.
Platelets are the blood cells that help the blood to clot (thicken). If a blood vessel is injured, the platelets adhere together to form blood clots in order to stop bleeding. The antiplatelet medications work by minimizing the capability of the platelets to stick together and form clots. If the individual has a transient ischemic attack, it is likely that he/she will be given antiplatelet medications. The commonly used antiplatelet medications are clopidogrel and aspirin.
Anticoagulants can prevent blood clots by changing the composition of the blood to prevent clots. These are given to those who had a transient ischemic attack if the blood clot that caused it originated in the heart. The commonly used anticoagulant is warfarin.
Those who have high blood pressure are given antihypertensives to control it. Take note that high blood pressure drastically increases the risk for ending up with a TIA or stroke.
If the individual has high cholesterol, he/she is given a statin. Take note that statins minimize the level of cholesterol in the body by blocking an enzyme in the liver that generates cholesterol.
In some cases, a surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy might be recommended after an individual experiences a TIA. This is a procedure that involves removal of part of a lining of the carotid artery along with the blockage that has accumulated in the artery.