5 Signs of a Mini-Stroke as Hailey Bieber Says She "Struggled With a Little PTSD" After Hers
Hailey Bieber is opening up about the aftermath of her mini-stroke (also known as transient ischemic attack), saying she experienced PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] after the health scare. "I struggled with a lot of anxiety after. I struggled with a little bit of PTSD of just like the fear of maybe it was gonna happen again," she says. "It was just a feeling that I was, like, I never want to experience that ever again. I mean, it was so terrifying, so jarring, so discombobulating in every single way that you could imagine."
Bieber, 26, says she was eating breakfast with husband Justin Bieber in March 2022 when she suddenly felt the symptoms of a stroke, caused by a blood clot in her brain. She was later diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO), a hole in the heart that is supposed to close after birth but doesn't. Bieber underwent surgery to close the hole, which she says went smoothly. "It was definitely the scariest thing I've ever gone through," she says, adding that Palm Springs triggered PTSD for her for months after the incident. "Even the first couple of times coming back here after was a little bit of a strange, triggering kind of feeling for me because you just remember exactly how everything happened in that moment," Bieber said. "I'm just really grateful that I was able to have had amazing doctors and nurses, and people that helped me get to the bottom of what actually happened."
According to the CDC, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. "There's a misconception that a transient ischemic attack can only occur in the elderly, but that's a myth," says Anita Mehta, DO, a neurologist at Summit Health. "TIAs and strokes can affect anyone. In 2009, 34 percent of people hospitalized for strokes were under the age of 65." Here are the signs of a mini-stroke, according to experts.
Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes could be a sign of TIA. "Temporary vision loss can be a sign of an impending stroke—it requires immediate medical attention," says neurologist Carole Thomas, MD. "Or, it can be a symptom of a stroke that's already occurred. Vision complications due to a stroke depend on where the stroke occurs. The majority of visual processing occurs in the occipital lobe, in the back of the brain. Most strokes affect one side of the brain. If the right occipital lobe is injured, the left field of vision in each eye may be affected. A stroke that affects the left occipital lobe may disturb the right field of vision in each eye. Rarely, both sides of the brain are affected, but this can result in blindness."
"When people use the term 'ministroke,' what they're really often referring to is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)," says Jonathan Graff-Radford, MD. "A TIA is a brief interruption of blood flow to part of the brain, spinal cord or retina, which may cause temporary stroke-like symptoms but does not damage brain cells or cause permanent disability. TIAs are often an early warning sign that a person is at risk of stroke. About 1 in 3 people who has a TIA goes on to experience a subsequent stroke. The risk of stroke is especially high within 48 hours after a TIA. Symptoms of TIA usually last only a few minutes but may persist for up to 24 hours. Since the immediate signs and symptoms of TIA and stroke are identical, it's important to seek medical attention."
Numbness and Face Drooping
TIA-related numbness is usually felt on one side of the body. "You may experience muscle weakness, paralysis, stiffness or changes in sensation, usually on one side of your body," says the Stroke Association UK. "These effects can make it harder to move some parts of your body, and you may struggle with everyday activities." Face drooping is another sign of TIA. "Sometimes, people will say, 'That's funny, I can't feel one side of my face,' and garble their words for a short time," says Dr. Christopher Anderson, director of acute stroke services at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
"It is critically important that these symptoms never be ignored," says neurologist Robert D. Brown, Jr., MD. "They require emergency medical care immediately. That's true even if they go away, as in a TIA. If these symptoms lead to a full stroke, treatment is available that sometimes can prevent long-term problems if given right away. If the symptoms disappear on their own, then doctors have ways of reducing the risk of a stroke in the future."
Reduced blood supply to the brain can cause dizziness and should never be ignored, doctors say. "Symptoms of a TIA usually go away within an hour," says neurologist Brett Cucchiara, MD. "Because the symptoms go away, many people ignore them – which is a big mistake because they may be a red flag warning you that a major stroke could happen, and often within the next 48 hours."
"As with many conditions, the older you are (70s and 80s) the higher your risk for a TIA," says Mollie McDermott, MD, MS. "But we also see younger people having TIAs, so it's important to note that TIAs are not exclusive to older populations. In addition to advanced age, other risk factors include family history, high blood pressure, smoking, an irregular heartbeat and diabetes."
Difficulty with speech or understanding speech could be a sign of TIA. "People having a mini stroke can experience a variety of symptoms. The most important are weakness on one side affecting the face, arm or leg – or all three – or speech disturbance, which can be slurring or decreased speech fluency or comprehension. These are the typical symptoms, but sometimes people can experience visual loss, dizziness or vertigo," says Candice Delcourt, Clinical Research Fellow, George Institute for Global Health.
"TIAs and strokes are both considered sudden neurological events — you'll never know the difference up front," says Cemal Sozener, MD. "While a stroke often leads to permanent disability, side effects related to a TIA or mini stroke are temporary with no lasting disability.
Symptoms of a TIA and stroke can be identified by remembering F.A.S.T., which refers to face, arms, speech and time. The face drooping, an arm going numb or speech that is slurred are all signs of a TIA or stroke, and timely treatment is critical."
Weakness. Also: How Is TIA Treated?
You may experience difficulty walking, muscle weakness, problems with coordination, or weakness of one side of the body. "Once the underlying cause of a TIA or ischemic stroke is found, doctors can determine the best strategy to prevent a future stroke from occurring," says Dr. Brown. "In some cases, treatment may involve taking medications — such as aspirin, warfarin or another blood thinner — that make it less likely clots will form. In other situations, a procedure such as angioplasty may be used to open a clogged artery, or surgery may be necessary to clear fatty deposits from arteries that lead to the brain.
"This evaluation and treatment is vital for preventing another stroke in the future. Making certain lifestyle changes can help, too. For example, controlling high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes can reduce the risk of stroke. Not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, drinking alcohol only in moderation or not at all, and exercising regularly also make a difference."