Pronounced: trans-EE-ent isk-EE-mik uh-tak
Transient ischemic attack (TIA) refers to temporary brain dysfunction. It lasts no longer than 24 hours. TIA is due to a shortage of blood and oxygen to the brain. It sometimes is referred to as a mini-stroke. TIA is a serious condition. It serves as a warning for a stroke
A TIA results from a temporary blockage of the blood supply to the brain. The carotid artery in the front of the neck is a major supply of blood to the brain. A build-up of plaque and hardening of this artery can slow or stop blood flow.
Reasons for the blockage may include:
TIAs may be caused by high blood pressure
TIA symptoms occur abruptly. They usually last less than 10 minutes. They may persist for up to 24 hours. The effects differ depending on the location of the blockage. TIA symptoms are similar to those of a stroke. They require immediate medical attention.
Symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medial history. A physical exam will be done. Particular attention will be paid to your blood pressure and nervous system. A primary goal will be to determine your stroke risk.
Tests may include:
A TIA places you at greater risk for having a stroke. The risk is actually highest in the first week after your TIA. Therefore, rapid treatment aims to decrease stroke risk
In addition, doctors often prescribe medication to lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. This will help lower these risk factors. To decrease the risk of clot formation your doctor may recommend:
If the carotid artery on the same side as the TIA is 70% blocked or more, doctors may recommend:
These procedures have risks associated with them. Talk to your doctor about your options. They are often not done if there are no symptoms and less than 70% blockage.
The following strategies may help reduce the chance of TIAs and stroke:
American Heart Association
National Stroke Association
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
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Last reviewed October 2009 by
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