Old before his time?
“Malcolm in the Middle” star Frankie Muniz tweeted that he was hospitalized Friday for a “mini stroke.”
“I was in the hospital last Friday. I suffered a ‘Mini Stroke,’ which was not fun at all. Have to start taking care of my body! Getting old!” wrote the actor, who turns 27 on Wednesday.
Before his fans have a stroke let me explain that a true “mini-stroke” results when blood to the brain is reduced for a few minutes and then subsides spontaneously without any after effects.
They are termed a TIA (Transitory Ischemic Attack). These are often chronic and may presage a genuine full blown stroke later in life. Some theories suggest they occur when a major artery (usually in the neck) goes into a momentary spasm or perhaps there was a small fragment of blood clot that traveled from some other location that fell apart after getting stuck for a few minutes in a narrowing artery in the brain.
There is also a type of migraine condition (with or without headache) that mimics a TIA and is considered absolutely harmless since it only involves a surge in the electrical activity on the surface of the brain. Merely an annoyance.
These migraines are far more common than a TIA which is more common than a outright stroke.
The trouble is, the symptoms for all three are identical. Sudden headache, loss or distortion of vision in one eye (seeing zig-zag rainbow patterns or a black spot with a sizzling rainbow effect around it), numbness in an arm or leg, slurred speech or the inability to recognize words or faces.
The migraine only last a few minutes, a TIA can last hours and a full stroke can be life changing or fatal. The trouble is, the symptoms for the least serious conditions are exactly the same as the potentially fatal one. So often, when a person first experiences one of the lesser conditions, they freakout and dial 911. By the time they get to the hospital they’re often already felling better and doctors can find no evidence that anything happened.
The first line drug of choice to deal with or prevent future attacks is an aspirin tablet every day. Studies have shown that those suffering from either the TIA or migraine condition who take an aspirin tablet a day are far less likely to suffer repeat attacks or have a full blown stroke or heart attack.
So if you’re reading this Frankie, take an aspirin and call me in the morning (you got my number right?)