‘Transient Ischemic Attack’ or ‘Mini-Stroke’- TIA

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 fugaxTransient 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
  • smoking
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
Tests that your doctor may perform
  • 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.
The goal of TIA treatment is to prevent a full blown stroke. Treatment depends on the exact cause of the TIA. In addition to lifestyle changes such as diet, physical activity, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking, the doctor may recommend medications to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. These changes may reduce your risk of further TIA or stroke. There are many medications that help prevent blood clots from forming, thus, reducing the risk of full-blown stroke.
If a TIA is caused by blockage in the main artery in the neck that supplies blood to the brain, called the carotid artery, surgeries may be required to open the artery, and prevent a stroke. These procedures are known as endarterectomy and stenting.
If TIAs are appropriately treated on time, one can prevent stroke and major disability. Hence, it is essential for people to be aware of this condition and seek treatment as soon as possible.

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