Transient Ischemic Attacks: Blanche Teal-Cruise

Smoking Led To a Higher Risk of Mini-Strokes

A smoker for 40 years, Blanche knew the habit was unhealthy. But she had no idea how it would eventually affect her health.

When Blanche almost fell down one morning after getting out of bed, she blamed her dizziness on vertigo, a condition that makes you feel dizzy or lightheaded. But when she tried to turn on the light, her arm felt like dead weight. So she rested a short while until she felt better. Then she took a shower and drove to work. She had no idea she had suffered a mild stroke.

When she arrived at work, a co-worker noticed that Blanche was not walking straight. When Blanche spoke, she felt as if she had to push the words out of her mouth.

Blanche is a CDC employee who smoked cigarettes for more than 25 years and quit after suffering a stroke.

Blanche was lucky: When she got to the hospital, she was diagnosed with a transient ischemic attack, often called a “mini-stroke.” Unlike major strokes, mini-strokes don’t cause permanent injury to the brain. But mini-strokes can lead to a major stroke.

Blanche’s mini-stroke was a wake-up call. Two weeks after her mini-stroke, Blanche quit smoking for good. Like many African-American women, Blanche also had high blood pressure. She now takes medicine to control her blood pressure and walks her dog every day to stay active. She sees her doctor regularly and works to keep her weight down.

Blanche always talks to her friends and family about how to reduce their chances of having a stroke and how to recognize when someone is having a stroke. She has learned so much about how to prevent stroke, and she likes to spread the word to others about the importance of going to the doctor and quitting smoking.