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. About 30% of stroke patients have had a TIA at some point in the past.
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:
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. This can be done with lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery. If the cause of the TIA is a treatable condition it must be promptly treated. Specific conditions include:
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 Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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