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Mr. C, A TIA is a transient ischemic attack. This means that you had a brief moment of diminished blood supply to your brain. A TIA can occur for different reasons, and right now we're not sure which one caused your TIA. However we do know that when there's been high blood pressure, like you have, this can affect the lining of the blood vessels so that there is decreased blood flow through them. The brain needs oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood to be able to function. If part of your brain gets too little blood, it ceases to function right. In your case the part of the brain that got less blood for a little while is involved in telling your speaking muscles how to move.

A TIA is a warning sign that you're at risk for a bigger event that could leave you with permanent deficits. This bigger event we're worried about is called a stroke--or maybe the term you have heard used for stroke is "shock--a shock to the brain". In a stroke, your brain has gone without oxygen and nutrients long enough to cause significant damage. That's what we're trying to prevent, and that's why you're getting all these tests. The tests are to find out specifically why this happened to you, so that we can prevent something worse. 

You asked me why they told you to take an aspirin every day. As we discussed already, you probably have changes in the lining of your blood vessels that have made their diameter narrow. This makes it more difficult for blood to get through.The aspirin keeps the blood thin so that it can flow easier through the narrowed blood vessels in your brain. When the blood is thin, it won't clot so easily. So you may notice that next time you cut yourself, it will take longer for the bleeding to stop.

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Nurse Practitioner Note

Mr. C's world has been turned upside down by what has just happened to him. He is very likely feeling overwhelmed and scared. This means that he probably won't hear, absorb, remember much of what you say the first time. The information will need to be repeated several times. Don't be surprised if he asks you many of these same questions again the next time you see him.