Mini-stroke (TIA), Turmeric, and Vitamin C
Majid Ali, M.D.
TIA is short for a medical term for mini-stroke. The full term is transient ischemic attack. The term ischemia means reduced blood supply. So, the term TIA refers to a temporary stroke-like condition caused by a reduction in the blood supply to some part of the brain, which then suffers a temporary loss of function. Here is a conversation I recently had with 79-year-old woman with high blood pressure and prior TIA episodes. She had been under severe and persistent stress related to surgery for the removal of an abdominal abscess and a part of her colon for diverticulitis. She developed pneumonia after leaving the hospital and had to be hospitalized again.
“I think I had a TIA,” she said.
“How do you know it was a TIA?” I asked.
“I felt pain in my right jaw and the right side of neck.”
“How long did it last?”
“For a few minutes.”
“So, how do you know it was a TIA?” I repeated my question.
“Then my eye became blurred.”
“For how long?”
“For some days.”
“Did you notice if one side of the face looked different from the other in the mirror?”
“I wondered if that might be so but didn’t find any difference.”
“Have you seen an ophthalmologist?”
“He couldn’t find anything.”
“Are you lightheaded or dizzy?”
“No, not now.”
“That’s good. That episode must have terrorized you. Tell me what did you do when you thought it might be TIA?” I asked in a comforting tone.
“I took turmeric and vitamin C pills. That was good, wasn’t it?”
“Turmeric and vitamin C are great but they would not have made much difference.”
“Why?” she asked puzzled.
“Because the fear of a mini-stroke would have shut down your stomach. The pills would have simply stayed there.”
“What should have done?”
“Take a safe posture, sit down if standing, lie down if sitting, breathe slow, gently move your toes, and then decide if you need to call 911 for medical assisstance.”
“Should I have taken a blood pressure pill?”
“That would also have simply sat in the stomach. Also those pills don’t work that fast anyway.”
“So what else could I have done?”
“After the terror of a stroke had subsided, you could have slowly gotten up, taken half a glass of water, again thought about the need for making the 911 call, and then taken a blood pressure pill.”
“Looked for a healthy protein or fat snack.”
“And no fruit juice or sugary stuff?”
“What else should have I done?’
“Call your doctor for follow-up care.”
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