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The potential for the misdiagnosis of a TIA

Throughout our many years of experience in helping clients here at DeLuca and Weizenbaum, we've worked with a number of people who've suffered both directly and indirectly from the consequences of an inaccurate diagnosis. Strokes are among those medical events whose delay in treatment can have disastrous consequences. Yet often, people will exhibit risk factors for a stroke such as a transient ischemic attack, which, if treated properly and promptly, can greatly reduce one's chances of actually having a stroke. In this post, we'll examine the signs and symptoms of a TIA, as well as the potential for its misdiagnosis.

A TIA is often referred to as a "mini-stroke" in that a person suffers from a blockage of blood to the brains just as he or she would with an actual ischemic stroke. The symptoms of this condition may include the sudden onset of: 

  • Localized numbness
  • Trouble seeing or speaking
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe headaches

Yet unlike with a stroke, these symptoms typically last only about five minutes. Many make the mistake of thinking that once the symptoms subside, they're out of danger. Yet studies have shown that up to 15 percent of those who suffer a TIA also suffer a major stroke within three months, and more than a third within one year.

The results of a 2010 study shared by the Annals of Emergency Medicine failure to diagnose the same problem by the emergency room doctors who initially treated them. That could potentially spell trouble for those presenting to emergency departments with TIA symptoms that aren't referred to a neurologist.    

For more information on the incorrect diagnosis of stroke symptoms, please visit our Misdiagnosis page. 

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