A ‘Transient Ischemic Attack’ (TIA) or ‘Mini-stroke’ is a condition in which the person experiences the symptoms of a stroke for a few minutes. The symptoms completely resolve within a few minutes. About 1 in 3 persons experiencing TIA will eventually develop a full blown stroke. This is the reason why TIA is also called ‘Warning Stroke’. It also gives the person time to act and prevent permanent stroke.
TIA occurs because the blood flow to a part of the brain stops temporarily due to a clot. When the body dissolves the clot, blood flow is restored and the symptoms resolve. Decreased blood flow due to narrowing of an artery supplying a part of the brain may also lead to TIA in situations where the demand increases.
The common symptoms of TIA are exactly the same as that of stroke.
- Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
- Sudden vision changes. A special type of TIA is amaurosis fugax. Transient blindness in one eye occurs because debris from a narrowed carotid artery clogs the artery (ophthalmic artery) that supplies blood to the retina of the eye.
- Sudden trouble speaking.
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
- Sudden problems with walking or balance.
Most symptoms of TIA disappear in a few minutes to hours.
Risk factors for TIA are the same as that for stroke
- strong family history of stroke
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- Tests that show pictures of your brain and blood vessels, such as a CT scan, an MRI, a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), or an angiogram.
- A test that uses sound to check your blood flow (Doppler ultrasound).
- An echocardiogram (echo) to check your heart’s shape and its blood flow.
- An electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) to measure your heart rhythm.
- Blood tests, including a complete blood count and a fasting blood test to check for problems that could be causing your symptoms.