Ministroke: A warning sign of a major problem

Even short-lived, subtle stroke symptoms should be evaluated.

Imagine trying to write a note, but it feels like you're moving the pen through wet concrete. Or you suddenly can't see normally — it's as if a black curtain has dropped over one of your eyes.

If these odd symptoms last for only a few minutes, you might be tempted to brush them off and blame muscle cramps or fatigue. Don't make that mistake, says Dr. Christopher Anderson, director of Acute Stroke Services at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Both of the above scenarios are examples of a possible transient ischemic attack (TIA), commonly referred to as a ministroke. Caused by a temporary lack of blood in part of the brain, a TIA is a warning sign that you are at risk for a stroke.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »