Research shows that a transient ischemic attack, otherwise known as a mini-stroke, is likely not transient at all. They actually create long-term brain damage. Researchers examined 13 individuals and they were compared against 13 healthy individuals. The transient ischemic attack individuals had all suffered an acute episode which affected motor systems, but within 24 hours symptoms had resolved.
Within 14-30 days of their episode, the individuals were examined, and demonstrated no impairment through standard imaging or clinical evaluation (MRI or CT). They then had a unique brain mapping procedure making use of transcranial magnetic stimulation with profound results. The brain mapping capabilities of the transcranial magnetic stimulation demonstrated that a transient ischemic attack is in fact causing brain damage which lasts much longer than previously thought.
Brain cells on the affected side of the brain in the transient ischemic attack group showed changes in their excitability, making it harder for both inhibitory and excitatory neurons to respond in comparison to the undamaged side and also to a group of individuals having healthy brains. These changes are very concerning as they show that a transient ischemic attack is likely not a transient event.
A transient ischemic attack is defined as a temporary episode of blood loss to the brain, resulting in symptoms like temporary loss of vision, tingling or numbness, weakness on one side of the body or difficulty speaking. Symptoms are usually resolved quickly and a lot of individuals don’t take such an episode seriously. Transient ischemic attacks are however warning signs of a future stroke, and every transient ischemic attack is treated as though it will result in a stroke, although not everyone goes on to experience a stroke. The risk of stroke dramatically increases in the days following an attack, and the transient ischemic attack could present a chance to minimize the risk or find a cause in order to prevent the permanent neurologic damage that results due to a stroke.