Transient Ischemic Attacks (Mini stroke)
Transient Ischemic Attacks
What is a transient ischemic attack? — A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is like a stroke in that it causes the same symptoms as a stroke, but it does not damage the brain. TIAs happen when an artery in the brain gets clogged, or closes off, and then reopens on its own. This can happen if a blood clot forms and then moves away or dissolves.
The symptoms of a TIA are the same as the symptoms of a stroke and can include:
Weakness or numbness of the hand, tongue, cheek, face, arm, or leg
Trouble speaking normally or at all
Trouble seeing clearly with 1 or both eyes
With a stroke, the symptoms are long-lasting, while a TIA goes away quickly.
What is the difference between TIA and stroke? — A TIA does not cause permanent damage to the brain like a stroke does. But the symptoms are the same. This can make it hard to tell if a person is having a TIA or a stroke.
What causes a TIA? — Just like a stroke, a TIA can happen when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off for a short time. This can happen if a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through an artery in the brain and then dissolves or moves away. It can also happen if one of the small arteries in the brain begins to close off from the effects of high blood pressure.
How can you tell if someone is having a TIA? — The symptoms of a TIA are the same as the symptoms of a stroke. The symptoms usually come on suddenly. There is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke, and what to do about it. Just think of the word "FAST" (figure 1). Each letter in the word stands for 1 of the signs you should watch for:
Face – Does the person's face look uneven or droop on 1 side?
Arm – Does the person have weakness or numbness in 1 or both arms? Does 1 arm drift down if the person tries to hold both arms out?
Speech – Is the person having trouble speaking? Does his or her speech sound strange?
Time – If you notice any of these stroke signs, even if they go away, call for an ambulance (in the US and Canada, dial 9-1-1). You need to act FAST. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chances of recovery.
Other symptoms can also be signs of a stroke. These include trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, and loss of balance or coordination.
In the hospital, doctors can do tests to look for problems in the brain, blood vessels, and heart. This can help them choose the right treatment.
What is the risk of stroke after TIA? — A person who has had a TIA is at high risk of having a stroke. This risk is highest in the first few days to weeks after the TIA. That is why it is so important to get medical attention right away if you think you (or someone else) might have had a TIA.
How is a TIA treated? — TIAs are not usually treated directly. Instead, treatments are directed at reducing the risk that a person will go on to have a full-blown stroke. To lower your risk of stroke, you should:
Take your medicines exactly as directed. Medicines that are especially important in preventing strokes include:
•Medicines to lower blood pressure
•Medicines called statins, which lower cholesterol
•Medicines to prevent blood clots, such aspirin or blood thinners
•Medicines that help to keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible (if you have diabetes)
Make lifestyle changes:
•Stop smoking, if you smoke
•Get regular exercise (if your doctor says it's safe) for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week
•Lose weight, if you are overweight
•Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, and low in meats, sweets, and refined grains (such as white bread or white rice)
•Eat less salt (sodium)
•Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
-If you are a woman, do not drink more than 1 drink a day
-If you are a man, do not drink more than 2 drinks a day
Another way to prevent strokes is to have surgery or a procedure to reopen clogged arteries in the neck. This type of treatment is appropriate for only a small group of people.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 16581 Version 8.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
New! No Prescription? No problem.
Affordable Online Care is here! Answer a few questions about your concern and receive a treatment plan in as little as 15 minutes, from a board-certified provider, 100% online.Learn more