What is a Transient Ischemic Attack?

A Transient Ischemic Attack, also known as a TIA or mini stroke, is a stroke that lasts for a relatively short time, with subsequent symptoms lasting no more than 24 hours. A TIA is caused by the temporary interruption of blood supply to the brain, usually as a result of an artery being blocked by plaque build-up or a blood clot, much like during a stroke. The main difference between a TIA and a stroke, however, is that while the symptoms of a TIA last for up to 24 hours, a typical stroke usually causes more significant, permanent damage.

Many patients that experience a TIA may believe that they have had a stroke and will therefore be taken to an emergency room. This is an appropriate course of action. Going to the emergency room not only mitigates potential damage and complications from non-treatment, but also sets anti-stroke efforts into motion. TIAs are the best warning signs for an impending stroke and about 1/3 of TIA patients can subsequently have a stroke.

How Does a TIA Differ from a Stroke?

A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is like a brief stroke. For a few minutes, blood doesn’t reach part of the brain. The risk factors and symptoms of TIA resemble those of a stroke, and some people who have TIAs go on to have a full-blown stroke. Since it can’t be determined whether someone is having a TIA or a stroke if they show symptoms, it’s important to always call 911 at the moment symptoms appear.

What Causes Transient Ischemic Attacks?

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