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Vascular Associates Blog


Tips for vascular health

Vascular Disease Awareness Month What Is Vascular Disease.png

September is Vascular Disease Awareness Month! By the age of 50, 50% of women and 30% of men are affected by a vein disorder. 

What Is Vascular Disease?

Vascular disease is a term used to describe numerous conditions affecting the veins, arteries and small vessels. 

Here are just a few examples of vascular diseases:

  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
  • Varicose Veins
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Symptoms can vary depending on the blood vessels affected. Coronary Artery Disease may present symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain while PAD can cause swelling, pain or weakness in the extremities. Unfortunately, a serious or even life-threatening event may occur before a patient even knows they have vascular disease as sometimes there are no symptoms.

People are more at risk if they have a family history of vascular disease or have the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • History of smoking
  • Unhealthy diet

How Does Vascular Associates of South Alabama Treat Vascular Disease?

At Vascular Associates of South Alabama, their board-certified physicians are experts in treating patients with vascular disease. While some types can be treated with medications and changes in lifestyle, others may need surgery to restore blood flow. With the addition of their first outpatient endovascular lab in Alabama, complex arterial and venous diseases are treated quickly and comfortably. 

If you’re concerned about vascular disease, it’s extremely important to get evaluated. We welcome the opportunity to treat new patients. 

Call us at 251-410-8272 to book an appointment today! 


Phone: 251-410-8272
Fax: 251-410-8273
Email: info@myvasadoc.net
Main Office: 1551 Old Shell Road
Mobile, AL 36604
Hours: Mon - Fri 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM


Everything You Need to Know About Flying with PAD.png

According to the American Heart Association, patients can fly with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) as long as their symptoms are managed. However, this may not be the case for everyone, so always check with your doctor. 

While air travel is relatively safe for PAD patients, it doesn’t come without risk. Flights over four hours require passengers to remain still for long periods of time which can cause blood flow to decrease and increase the chance of a blood clot. This is especially concerning for people with PAD as their arteries are already narrowed and blood flow is more difficult. 

High altitude is also a concern as it affects PAD. Although cabins are pressurized, air may be thin at times and this puts more strain on the heart to pump blood throughout the body.

As a person with PAD, it’s best to be prepared and know the facts. Here are 6 things you can do to make flying safer and more comfortable:

#1: Keep medications readily available

Put your medications in your carry-on instead of your checked luggage. Before leaving the house, make sure to take pictures of your prescriptions and their dosages just in case you lose them.

#2: Stay hydrated

As soon as you get through security, purchase a large bottle of water and drink it. Fill it up before boarding the plane and continue to drink it on the flight. Studies have shown that proper hydration can reduce claudification. To prevent dehydration, avoid alcohol before and during the flight. 

#3: Wear compression socks 

Compression socks help improve blood flow throughout the legs. Talk with your doctor to determine if you need them and what kind. 

#4: Move around at least every 2 hours

Unfortunately, space is quite limited on a flight, but it’s still important to stretch your legs. Get up and use the bathroom. Take a walk up and down the aisle. Keep leg room clear so you can move around more. You can also do this exercise several times in your seat which requires pulling your knees up to your chest and holding them there for 15 seconds. 

#5: Know the symptoms of a blood clot

Get medical help right away if you suspect a blood clot. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Warmth on the affected area

  • Change of color

  • Cramping

  • Trouble breathing

  • Excessive swelling

#6: Avoid excessive salt

Longer flights normally provide meals. This food may have more sodium than you’re normally used to. Be sure to pack healthy, low sodium options in your carry-on. The buildup of excessive sodium can exacerbate PAD symptoms.

Before traveling, please consult with a physician. Vascular Associates of South Alabama is the leading provider of vascular care in South Alabama. We welcome the opportunity to treat you. 

Contact Us!

PHONE: 251-410-8272 
FAX: (251) 410-8273
EMAIL: info@myvasadoc.net


5 Ways to Slow  the Progression  of Peripheral  Artery Disease.png

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) can be a difficult condition to live with as it affects blood flow to the extremities and organs. This illness should never be left untreated as it could lead to life-threatening complications like stroke, amputation, kidney disease and heart attack. 

While there isn’t currently a cure for PAD, the symptoms from the disease can be managed with lifestyle changes or even minimally-invasive procedures. Making these changes can help slow the progression of the disease and its symptoms. Here’s five ways:

#1: Exercise Regularly 

No need to start off by running a marathon… Walking is a perfectly good exercise to reduce the development of PAD symptoms. In fact, studies have found that the severity of PAD symptoms is less when patients engage in regular physical activity. Remember, consistency is key! 

#2: Stop Smoking

Smoking is terrible for one’s health for numerous reasons, but it’s especially troublesome for patients with PAD. When it comes to this disease, smoking increases the risk of complications and death as it constricts the arteries. Upon diagnosis, patients should work with their physician to develop a plan that helps them quit smoking as soon as possible.

#3: Eat Healthy 

A healthy diet is always recommended as it helps with health issues like diabetes and high cholesterol. With PAD, many patients have underlying conditions that are positively affected by a healthier meal plan. Many physicians suggest the Mediterranean diet as it reduces the consumption of dairy and red meat which may contribute to arterial plaque. 

#4: Be Mindful of Alcohol Consumption

Excessive drinking can affect the heart and its ability to pump blood throughout the body. PAD already causes narrowed vessels. Mixed with cardiomyopathy, PAD symptoms may be worsened. The best course of action is to entirely cut out or limit the amount of alcohol consumed. 

#5: Take Care of the Feet

PAD is worsened by diabetes and can worsen diabetic peripheral neuropathy. To prevent ulcers or amputation, it’s important to follow proper foot care like:

  • Treating infections immediately

  • Washing feet regularly and thoroughly

  • Inspecting for injuries

  • Visiting the doctor promptly when something won’t heal

Before making any changes to your lifestyle, please consult with a physician. Vascular Associates of South Alabama is the leading provider of vascular care in South Alabama. We welcome the opportunity to treat you. 

Contact Us!

PHONE: 251-410-8272 
FAX: (251) 410-8273
EMAIL: info@myvasadoc.net



Vascular Blog.png


A vascular surgeon is a highly-trained specialist who treats vascular diseases and provides comprehensive vascular care. Vascular disease is defined as “any condition that affects your circulatory system, or system of blood vessels” by Cleveland Clinic. Types of vascular disease include atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease and pulmonary embolism.

Do they always operate?

While vascular surgeons do perform surgery, they also treat patients using only lifestyle changes and preventative health plans. Some conditions, like Peripheral Artery Disease, can be managed with exercise and a healthy diet. 

Why would I need a vascular surgeon?

Normally, a patient’s primary care doctor will refer them to a vascular surgeon if they’ve been recently diagnosed with vascular disease, present with pain in their legs or are at high risk. Patients with diabetes or who smoke may need to start a relationship and work on slowing the progression of vascular diseases. Some people may skip the general practitioner entirely after an unexpected trip to the hospital that’s related to vascular disease. 

What should I look for in a vascular specialist?

A patient needs a board-certified vascular surgeon who is highly trained in a multitude of innovative vascular treatments and procedures. They should be training on the latest technology and looking for modern care techniques. It’s also beneficial if they have an in-house, endovascular outpatient lab with their own staff.

Why choose Vascular Associates of South Alabama?

Our practice has the technology, team and knowledge to handle all vascular conditions using expert limb salvage services, minimally invasive procedures and preventative health plans. We have Alabama’s first, outpatient endovascular lab at our Mobile office. This allows us to treat even the most complex venous and arterial diseases quickly and comfortably.

Before making any changes, please consult with a physician. Vascular Associates of South Alabama is the leading provider of vascular care in South Alabama. We welcome the opportunity to treat you. 


Contact Us!

PHONE: 251-410-8272 
FAX: (251) 410-8273
EMAIL: info@myvasadoc.net


Behaviors That May Reduce Your Chances of a Stroke.png

You’re waking up from a great night out with family or friends.  Food, drinks, dancing, and most importantly, laughter were the menu of the evening.  You stretch as you rise and think to yourself, “didn’t Bill tell some funny stories at the dinner table…” Suddenly, things get a little fuzzy, wobbly, out of focus.  Your head is pounding.  You reach out for the wall to steady yourself, but your legs feel weak, your face numb and tingly.  You want to call out for help, but the words won’t come.  Panic sets in, and the harder you try, the more difficult the simplest tasks become.  


Just then, someone nearby hears a noise and comes to check and see if you are feeling the after-effects of all that dancing when they see you and know something is terribly wrong…


If you’re lucky, you won’t be one of the nearly 800,000 people in the United States that suffers a stroke every year.  You won’t be one of those that has a stroke in the U.S. about every 40 seconds.  If you did experience one, you’ll be lucky if your stroke is not one of the approximately 87% that blocks blood flow to the brain, often causing permanent damage or disability. 


Does the scenario just described or the stroke statistics sound like something out of a scary movie?  It may be the season for it, but these frightening figures and effects of a stroke are real. Very, very real.


Consider This


Not including the current pandemic, strokes are the fourth leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and are a major contributor to disability.  However, we are a rugged bunch, an independent, pull yourself up by the bootstraps kind of folks, so we often discount symptoms (like mini-strokes, which are a temporary lack of blood to the brain).  And though all indications point to a stroke, we often won’t head for the nearest treatment facility. However, that poor decision could very well change the course of your life.  


There Is A Way


So, now that we’ve covered some terrifying information and possibilities, let’s talk about how we can reduce the chance for a stroke while at the same time improving our quality of life.  After all, any age is much too young to have a stroke.


Walking.  A walk – pace quickened a little, will do wonders for reducing the chances for a stroke by reducing body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol.  Leading health organizations recommend about 30 minutes of light to vigorous aerobic exercise a day for 5 days a week for adults. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also look better, and your opportunity for being a stroke statistic nosedive.


In addition to walking or other forms of exercise, you can lower your heart rate by changing your eating habits.  Lower the salt, eat healthier, and drink plenty of water, and suddenly your feeling 16 again! Okay, maybe not 16, but you will notice a pep in your step, and again, with exercise, you’re becoming a beacon of health and working to keep a stroke at bay.


Cut the smoking! Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation techniques.  The sooner you stop, the faster your body will start to heal itself.  Not only will you reduce the chance of stroke, but you reduce the risk of heart attacks, peripheral vascular disease (discussed in a previous blog), and even premature death.


Limit the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption.  Not to mention heavy binge drinking, frequent drinking or alcohol abuse, even a consistent amount of moderate drinking can adversely affect your health.  Increased blood pressure and weight, as well as the higher risk of diabetes or liver damage, can contribute to the possibility of a stroke.  


Vascular Associates of South Alabama 


Now that we’ve outlined what you can do to help yourself, let’s talk briefly about what the caring team at Vascular Associates of South Alabama can do for you.  Our highly trained and experienced specialists partner with our patients to help identify those at risk and may order a specific ultrasound exam to get a better look at their carotid arteries and then develop a plan of action based on the results of the ultrasound.  We may discuss changes in the habits mentioned above, prescribe medications to help reduce some stroke indicators or explore the option of surgery to help with blood flow.


You can trust that our caring staff at any of our convenient locations will make you and your health our utmost priority.  We welcome new patients and accept almost every major medical insurance plan.  


Come see us at Vascular Associates of South Alabama, and let’s work together to get you back on the road to better health!


Different Treatments for Varicose Veins.png

Did you know you can hear the blood in your veins? You just have to listen varicosely.

Okay, so this is about the only time we’ll chuckle together regarding the issue of varicose veins. Those ugly, often bulging and twisting veins are no joke. But to treat them, we have to better understand them – what are the causes, how serious are they, and can they ever go away, are just some of the things that go through our collective thoughts when we see one beginning to develop.


Varicose or Spider?


Approximately 50 percent of our older population will begin to notice either varicose veins or spider veins in various spots on their bodies.  Even though they look very similar and are essentially related, their look, cause, severity and location can vary immensely.  


Certain lifestyle factors may contribute to what may seem like a sudden appearance of varicose or spider veins.  Overall weight, medicines with hormones in them, or if you have a job where you sit or stand for long periods of time can all contribute.  


But some reasons for varicose or spider veins are unavoidable.  Both can be considered hereditary, women are statistically more likely to develop them, and age is also a factor, as mentioned earlier.


Varicose veins are identified as those veins that are bulging, purplish in appearance and can look very twisted. They are more frequently found in women and usually show in the legs.  Pain is occasionally associated with varicose veins, as is a feeling of the limbs being heavy and tired. The most severe instances of varicose veins can result in further circulatory problems.


Spider veins are smaller, are most likely tiny blue or red lines, can appear nearly anywhere on our body (including the face), and are hardly ever painful or a precursor to other health-related issues.  They are mainly a sightly nuisance.

Finally, while not all varicose veins are considered serious, it is nevertheless better to speak to your physician or our highly knowledgeable staff here at Vascular Associates when you begin to see them so we can diagnose the veins and give you peace of mind that there are no underlying conditions, or develop a game plan as to how we’ll work together to combat their existence.


What Can Be Done?

So, you’ve come to terms with having varicose veins, but want to know if there are even any treatments for them.  The short, and highly positive answer, is YES! Here at Vascular Associates, we can discuss several treatment plans: 


Compression socks are not just for diabetes.  Designed to aid in pushing blood from your legs back toward your heart, compression socks also work very well in the treatment of varicose veins, thus reducing the opportunity for your veins to become swollen. 


Sclerotherapy injections: Using special chemical formulations to close off the damaged vein and causing them to then shrink in time (typically a very short period), the vein will fade away and no longer be visible.  Upon your initial visit, we will discuss whether you are a candidate for this procedure, and discuss possible side effects (most are minor).


Varithena: Administered by using either a catheter or by direct injection, Varithena is a foam that will fill the section of the vein to be treated, causing it to eventually collapse (results may be nearly immediate or require 1 or 2 more visits).  It is minimally invasive, and the best part? You can walk out and resume normal activities (with some minor restrictions) the same day!


VenaSeal (Closure Treatment): Using a small catheter, a specially formulated vein glue is administered to the affected area, and once it adheres to the vein, closes it off and reroutes the blood flow to nearby healthy veins.  It is nearly painless and is an outpatient procedure.  


Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT): Uses very thin fibers to transmit laser energy (heat) to the interior walls of the damaged vein, resulting in vein closure and then the flow of blood is redirected to neighboring veins.  It is nearly painless, most patients go home the same day, and the vein fades from view.

Phlebectomy or micro phlebectomy (sometimes called ambulatory phlebectomy): a procedure designed to remove the damaged vein through tiny openings in the skin.  This procedure is considered one of the best for those veins that are particularly bulging.  But unlike other procedures that merely close off the vein, a phlebectomy completely removes the bulging vein, so the aesthetic appeal is almost immediate. 


Let’s Partner


While there are alternatives available, we want to emphasize your comfort is of the utmost importance to us, so we will thoroughly go over treatment plans from which to choose as well as offer to manage associated pain medicinally to minimize any pain and reduce risks for nerve injury when using thermal ablation.

If you have questions about these or other procedures to remove varicose veins, please make an appointment today, and our caring staff at Vascular Associates of South Alabama will be glad to discuss available options with you and talk about lifestyle changes to give you relief and better health.  The best you is possible!

Is It Neuropathy or Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).png

The Signs

You’re just sitting down with a good book or to catch the six o’clock news, when the shooting or stabbing pain in your feet you’ve overlooked before, is now undeniable. Unsure of the cause, you go into doctor mode and look for answers by Google.

Out for a nice walk, suddenly and without any real rhyme or reason, your legs feel like they’re cramping up, especially in your calves. You decide to sit on the nearest chair or bench, and the pain begins to disappear.  What’s going on here?


The Causes

Peripheral Neuropathy, or peripheral neuritis, is the result of damage or disease to your nervous system. Diabetes is generally considered the main cause, but exposure to toxins, injuries or infections can also be what causes the damage.  Neuropathy symptoms range from numbness, weakness, to a pins-and-needles sensation that is painful.  Left unattended, the pain can become acute.

Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, is a disease brought on by the narrowing of arteries that carry blood and affects the extremities of your body, such as legs and feet.  Being overweight, smoking or lack of exercise are all contributing factors to PAD.  To add to your frustration, when you move, pain begins and can grow worse and only seems to get better when you are at rest.  But this is a tell-tale sign of PAD. Left untreated, you may also see changes in skin color, or form noticeable sores. And plaque buildup can cause clots, which will further reduce the flow of blood, or may even block it altogether, which may result in a damaging infection or possible amputation.  

First Things First

Nearly all of us at some point or another will experience some sort of discomfort or minor aches and pains. Whether it’s muscle soreness, cramps, or a slight twinge, we usually pass these off with excuses, like, “I haven’t used those muscles in a while”, or, “I stepped wrong”, and so on.  We also attempt to reason it away with thoughts such as a lack of exercise, miscalculating the weight of a particular object and even age. 

However, when the pain can no longer be ignored, when it doesn’t completely go away on its own or with simple pain meds, it’s time to get serious about the root cause, because doing so will make the path taken to find relief become clearer.    

Begin making mental or written notes of such things as, when the pain occurs, what you are doing, does it go away, etc. And remember to be specific about what areas hurt.  


The Way Ahead

Share these notes with your doctor, or with us and we’ll go over your symptoms together. We’ll discuss things like your current lifestyle or any recent changes to your daily routine, and from that, forge a way forward to get you back to better health. 

With either neuropathy or PAD, a better, healthier you, is possible. Our staff has the experience, knowledge and expertise to get you there. Schedule an appointment with us, today!

Predicting Amputation Due to Diabetes and PAD.png


If you have type 2 diabetes, you’ve likely thought about limb amputation. Diabetic patients are at increased risk of amputation, accounting for up to 85% of daily limb amputations worldwide. This increased threat is due to a variety of factors, making it difficult - if not impossible - to reduce the risk completely. 


Luckily, researchers continue to study the connection between diabetes and amputation in an effort to more accurately predict and prevent the threat. One recent study suggests that doctors should be paying special attention to a subgroup of diabetic patients: those with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).


How Diabetes and PAD affect amputation risk


There is no doubt a connection between diabetes and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop PAD, as high levels of blood sugar cause changes in the blood chemistry and artery walls that contribute to plaque buildup. Not only are diabetic patients more likely to develop PAD, but diabetes is also known to increase the progression and severity of the disease.


Diabetes and PAD each carry an independent risk of limb amputation, and that risk increases significantly when the conditions co-exist. In fact, the risks are directly related: diabetes causes slow-healing sores and PAD, which blocks the blood flow needed to heal the open wounds from reaching the extremities. As blood flow is restricted, tissue damage occurs and sores may develop gangrene, a dangerous and deadly infection. Diabetic patients may also develop nerve damage that decreases pain, causing dangerous foot ulcers to go untreated until amputation is the only answer.


Unfortunately, the burden of amputations is severe, causing a significant rise in five-year mortality rates. For this reason, experts have begun conducting studies to determine variable risk factors that increase the threat of amputation in diabetic patients. One such study recently published in Diabetic Medicine developed a new risk score model that could help physicians better treat patients that present with major adverse limb events (MALEs). 


Predicting Diabetic Limb Amputation with Risk Scores


There are many factors that put you at an increased risk for amputation, including:


  • Certain demographic factors (age, gender, ethnicity)

  • Smoking

  • Underlying conditions, especially diabetes or vascular diseases

  • A history of foot ulcers or prior amputations

  • Neuropathy status


In this new study, 14,752 patients with type 2 diabetes were assessed for major adverse limb amputations, including amputations, revascularization, and gangrene. By reviewing the data, experts were able to create a variable risk score model that ranges from 6 (low risk) to 96 (high risk).


The study found that peripheral artery disease was the leading risk factor for diabetic limb amputation. Negative outcomes were also more likely in patients over 50, males, and those with a history of smoking. Additional high-risk factors included coronary artery disease, unmanaged insulin use and a history of prior foot ulcers or amputations.


In the future, this new risk score model could be used to categorize patient risk of amputation based on the presence of certain individual factors, allowing doctors to provide more specialized care that reduces the threat of limb loss. 


Reducing Amputation Risk


By understanding the most prevalent risk factors, patients and physicians can take a more proactive role in preventing diabetic amputation. Doctors should take special care to closely monitor high-risk patients and manage underlying conditions like diabetes and peripheral artery disease. Patients should be taught to check themselves for dangerous foot ulcerations, make healthy lifestyle choices, and control their blood sugar levels.


If you have diabetes, being proactive about peripheral artery disease is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of amputation. Vascular Associates of South Alabama offers a wide range of PAD treatments and procedures to help you manage your condition and improve your overall health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

Can Young Adults Get Peripheral Artery Disease.png


Wrinkles. Vision Loss. Dementia. There are some things we don’t expect to combat until we’re older. You probably wouldn’t think to ask about Peripheral Artery Disease at your 35-year check-up - but maybe you should.


While this common vascular disease doesn’t typically show up on your patient questionnaire until your late 50s, it can occur much earlier. More young adults than ever are showing early signs of the condition - and they experience an alarmingly poor prognosis. To help you be proactive at your next physical, here’s what you need to know about premature Peripheral Artery Disease.


What is Premature Peripheral Arterial Disease?


Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is caused by plaque buildup in the arteries that carry blood away from the heart. This sticky substance causes the arteries to narrow and restricts blood flow to the extremities, especially the legs and feet. If left untreated, the condition can lead to limited mobility, limb pain and weakness, and even early death. 


PAD typically occurs later in life. When symptomatic PAD occurs in patients under the age of 50, it is known as Premature Peripheral Artery Disease. This early onset is rare - it occurs in less than one percent of the U.S. population, but it can also be extremely serious. Studies have shown that premature PAD is associated with a higher risk of rapid progression, limb loss, and death.


Signs of Premature Peripheral Artery Disease


PAD is easy to overlook, even in high-risk patients. The condition builds gradually and symptoms are often mild, causing many patients to go undiagnosed for several years. You may be suffering from Peripheral Artery Disease if you have:


  • Limb pain that lessens or disappears with rest (Intermittent Claudication)

  • Weakness or Numbness in the legs and/or feet

  • Limb sores that are slow to heal

  • Legs that are pale, blue-tinted, or cold to the touch

  • Poor growth of toenails or leg hair

  • Restlessness in the legs and feet, especially at night


Because PAD is uncommon in younger adults, it’s important to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or are at increased risk of premature PAD. 


Am I at risk of Premature Peripheral Artery Disease?


Although rare, premature PAD does occur under the right conditions. Those at risk of Premature Peripheral Artery Disease share many of the same risk factors as those in the condition’s typical onset range. 


The most common risk factors include:


  • Smoking

  • Family history of Vascular Disease

  • Uncontrolled Diabetes

  • Obesity and Physical Inactivity

  • High Blood Pressure

  • High Cholesterol

  • High levels of Homocysteine, an amino acid that helps break down protein


Because PAD is uncommon in younger adults, it’s important to speak with a vascular specialist if you are at increased risk of premature PAD. A quick, non-invasive test known as an Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) can provide a painless diagnosis by comparing the blood pressure levels in your hands and feet. If your ABI level is below 0.9, you may have a blocked artery that requires medical intervention.


How is Premature Peripheral Artery Disease Treated?


There are many treatment options available for patients with Peripheral Artery Disease. These can range from simple lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation and exercise to daily medications to control underlying conditions. In severe cases, surgical interventions may be necessary. 


Because PAD is progressive, it is extremely important that the condition is managed as quickly as possible, especially in those with early onset. If you are at risk of Premature Peripheral Artery Disease, make an appointment with Vascular Associates of South Alabama. Our expert physicians and specialists will work with you in our state-of-the-art facility to develop a tailored treatment plan that manages your condition and extends your quality of life.  

The Main Differences in Ischemic Strokes and Transient Ischemic Attacks.png

Is it a stroke or a mini-stroke? Knowing the difference may be harder than it seems. Ischemic Strokes and Transient Ischemic Attacks - more commonly known as a “mini-stroke” - look and act almost identical. They share similar causes, symptoms, and risk factors, making it difficult for even medical professionals to tell them apart.


So what’s the difference between an ischemic stroke and a transient ischemic attack (TIA), and is one really better than the other? Read on to find out. 


Ischemic Stroke


Almost 75% of all strokes are ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blockage in the brain’s artery causes blood flow to be restricted to an area of the brain. As brain tissue dies, critical functions like speech, memory, and muscle movement are impaired. An ischemic stroke is a medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated as soon as possible. 


Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)


A TIA is also caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. Unlike an ischemic stroke, a TIA is temporary and resolves on its own without medical intervention. Blood flow typically returns to normal within a few minutes and symptoms resolve completely within 24 hours. TIA can cause permanent damage but typically does not have permanent symptoms. It can also lead to long-term cognitive problems including increased risk for dementia.


Stroke and TIA Symptoms


The short-term symptoms of an ischemic stroke and a TIA are very similar and can include:


  • Muscle weakness

  • Numbness or Tingling

  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech

  • Loss of coordination

  • Drooling

  • Drooping of one side of the face

  • Confusion


It’s important to note that it’s impossible to tell the difference between an ischemic stroke and a TIA from initial symptoms alone. Any combination of the above symptoms requires immediate medical attention. 


Stroke and TIA Prognosis

A stroke is a dangerous emergency that can cause permanent disability and even death. Most strokes can be successfully treated if diagnosed early, though most survivors suffer long-term consequences such as problems with speech and memory.


Because it resolves on its own very quickly, a TIA does not cause lasting brain damage or disability. That being said, a TIA is a warning sign you should never ignore. They often foreshadow future strokes, and about 12 percent of patients with a TIA die within a year. 


Treatment & Management


The treatment for an ischemic stroke involves removing the blockage through clot-busting medications or surgical intervention. Once treated, survivors must typically undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation to combat long-term disabilities. Stroke prevention measures including medications, regular testing, imaging studies, and surgery can reduce your risk of future strokes. 


TIA symptoms resolve on their own without the need for medical intervention. TIA patients will need to undergo a full medical evaluation to identify and manage any stroke risk factors. Treatment plans typically include medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lifestyle changes, and surgical vessel repair if needed.


If you are at risk or have suffered a stroke, the expert physicians at Vascular Associates of South Alabama can help. We offer detailed stroke prevention and management treatments that can determine and reduce your risk of future strokes. Contact us today! 

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