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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

May 2, 2014

#StrokeMonth: TIAs – The Warnings Most Ignore

By Cynthia Weiss
Lorena Rivera with two of her three children.

Lorena Rivera (center), stroke survivor, with two of her three children.

Many people experience a warning prior to a stroke. But often it goes unnoticed, especially when you’re young and otherwise healthy, like Lorena Rivera, 44.

A nurse educator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rivera was the picture of good health. She didn’t drink or smoke, had good blood pressure, and ate a healthful diet. She was also physically active. So when the mom of three experienced headaches and numbing in one arm, she wasn’t too concerned. However, when she temporarily lost vision while doing errands one day, she became more frightened.

Rivera, it turns out, had been experiencing a TIA – a transient ischemic attack – which produces similar symptoms as a stroke but usually lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent damage. Often called a mini stroke, a TIA is a warning. About 1 in 3 people who have a transient ischemic attack eventually has a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the first episode. 

Thanks to medication, today, Rivera is in good health. She has become an active stroke advocate, because “it can happen to anyone.” In addition to attending events and engaging in outreach to garner funding for additional research, Rivera was featured in an American Stroke Association public service video for the Together to End Stroke campaign.

“Take time to learn about the symptoms and if something unusual happens, seek medical attention. Time is crucial and there are so many treatments now for patients,” she says.

Rivera also advocates for taking time to learn about the signs and symptoms and ways to reduce your risk.

In the video below, Kevin Barrett, M.D., a vascular neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, talks about the symptoms of transient ischemic attack and how it it treated.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke affects more than 800,000 people annually. It is the leading cause of disability in America and the fourth leading cause of death. Mayo Clinic in Florida was certified as the state's first Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission, which recognizes excellence in diagnosis, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of stroke patients.


Tags: American Stroke Association, David Miller, Kevin Barrett, Lorena Rivera, MayoClinicFL, Neurology & Neurosurgery, power to end stroke, stroke, strokemonth, TIA, transient ischemic attack, Vascular

November was tragic for me, A Lpn for 30 years, and now at a new job, first day on the job, 4 days before thanksgiving in which my mom past on that day, 1975 @ the age od 29, I, YES ME HAD A TIA, AT WORK, RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL. Now on plavix and baby asa, still worry from time to time. Thanks for listening, MARY55


I had a stroke/ TIA back in September 2015. I was riding home from out of town and got about 30 miles outside of San Angelo TX and the whole side of my left face wrapping around my throat area went dumb for just a second then I got real hot and then freezing. I was trying to tell my sister I wanted a blanket and I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn’t make it come out. We were almost out of the town and not another one for over an hour, I kept thinking to myself is something wrong. I finally told my sister I think something is wrong and as I talk I am slurring my words. This was a small town we were in with no hospital so we called 9-1-1 and they took me back 30 miles to San Angelo. Once at the hospital they did a CT scan which showed a spot on my brain. They decided to admit me and do a MRI the following day. I had several test run over the next few day MRI, Scan of my heart, neck artieries, eye stimulation test. ( At this point the hospital was saying I could have MS did not have a stroke). They wanted to do a lumbar puncture, I got on the table for the procedure and they decided to wait until the next day, that when I checked myself out of the hospital. I wanted a second opinion. Once I got home I saw a nuerologist here, he informed me that I did not have MS that I had a stroke. I do smoke ( trying to quit). I am not over weight. Still to this day every time something hurts in my body I think I am having another one or a heart attack. I have went to the ER because of this. I keep having panic attacks and cant sleep at night because I think about how I feel. I just want to make peace with this and live my life. I am taking baby asprin, diabetic medicine, chol medicine, depression medicine, blood pressure medicine. I have all the test that could be run on my heart and they all came back normal. They can not tell me why I had a TIA/Stroke. I think if I could find someone that has had this happen to them, I might be able to make peace and live my life without fear everyday.


i had a car accident in may 2015 and had a blackout. i never had one before, on or off the job, i was a letter carrier in the mail truck for 34 years. my eyes were totally black but iwas able to walk away from the accident. i should’ve went to the hospital but didn’t. went to my dr. the next day and he said i looked good minus all the bruises.on july 15 2015, iwas on my way to pt but called in cuz i wasn’t feeling good. i don’t even know how i got home but i did and fell into bed like a swan dive andwas out for three hours. went to the dr. and had an mri done but it showed nothing and i was good until dec.5,2015 when i was decorating cookies at church. i had another attack. i couldn’t see or hear, but i could walk and talk, didn’t talk sense. my son took me home and i was able to climb the stairs to the house and go upstairs all by my self. the hardest parrt was trying to figure out how to go to bed. i was out for 6 hours. went to the dr again and he refered me to the neurologist who ordered a cat scan and mri, both with contrast, but only the cat scan showed an aneurysm on the left side of my head which i know came from the car accident. this keeps happening and we haven’t found the real problem. the other times this has happened have been on Christmas eve, May 22,2016 July1 2016,august 8,2016, and then 3 times after i was in another car accident the cat scan and mri didn’t show any change from before. i had three after the accident on oct.18,2016,one was on the way from the church to the cemetary for a funeral. my daughter-in-law is learning the symptoms well. she sent my son to go home to bed. i had another one the next day when everyone went back home. once again it stays for about three hours and i’m dead to the world. the last time it happened i did not pass out, but was a real bobble-head doll, dropping my chips on the floor and just tryin to stay in the game, we are now going to see a neuro-surgeon and maybe he will have tests that will get rid of this once and for all.

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