Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is like a stroke, producing similar symptoms, but usually lasting only a few minutes and causing no permanent damage. Often called a mini stroke, a transient ischemic attack may be a warning. About 1 in 3 people who have a transient ischemic attack eventually has a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the transient ischemic attack.
A transient ischemic attack can serve as both a warning and an opportunity — a warning of an impending stroke and an opportunity to take steps to prevent it.
Transient ischemic attacks usually last a few minutes. Most signs and symptoms disappear within an hour. The signs and symptoms of TIA resemble those found early in a stroke and may include:
You may have more than one TIA, and the recurrent signs and symptoms may be similar or different depending on which area of the brain is involved. If signs and symptoms last longer than 24 hours or cause lasting brain damage, it's considered a stroke.
When to see a doctor
A transient ischemic attack has the same origins as that of an ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke. In an ischemic stroke, a clot blocks the blood supply to part of your brain. In a transient ischemic attack, unlike a stroke, the blockage is brief, and there is no permanent damage.
The underlying cause of a TIA often is a buildup of cholesterol-containing fatty deposits called plaques (atherosclerosis) in an artery or one of its branches that supplies oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Plaques can decrease the blood flow through an artery or lead to the development of a clot. Other causes include a blood clot moving to your brain from another part of your body, most commonly from your heart.
Some risk factors for transient ischemic attack and stroke can't be changed. Others, you can control.
Risk factors you can't change
Risk factors you can take steps to control You can control or treat a number of risk factors, including:
Preparing for your appointment
A TIA often is diagnosed in an emergency situation, but if you're concerned about your risk of having a stroke, you can prepare to discuss the subject with your doctor at your next appointment.
What you can do
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Because a transient ischemic attack is short-lived, your doctor may diagnose a TIA based just on the medical history of the event rather than on anything found during a general physical and neurological examination. To help determine the cause of your TIA and to assess your risk of stroke, your doctor may rely on the following:
Treatments and drugs
Once your doctor has determined the cause of your transient ischemic attack, the goal of treatment is to correct the abnormality and prevent a stroke. Depending on the cause of your TIA, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the tendency for blood to clot or may recommend surgery or a balloon procedure (angioplasty).
In carotid endarterectomy, your surgeon opens the carotid artery to remove atherosclerotic plaques. ...
Knowing your risk factors and living healthfully are the best things you can do to prevent a TIA. Included in a healthy lifestyle are regular medical checkups. Also:
Last Updated: 2011-03-03
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