Transient Ischemic Attack

Transient Ischemic Attack

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Alternative Name: Mini stroke.

Abbreviation: TIA.

A sudden focal loss of neurological function with complete recovery usually within 24 hours; caused by a brief period of inadequate perfusion in a portion of the territory of the carotid or vertebral basilar arteries.

TIA occurs in approximately 300,000 patients per year in the United States. TIA is a risk factor for stroke, with an overall 5-year stroke rate of approximately 29%. Conversely, many patients with a stroke have experienced a prior TIA, with the rate varying from 10% to 50% depending on the subtype of stroke.

Blood clots that temporarily block blood flow to the brain are the most common cause of TIAs. Blood clots may develop for a variety of reasons. Blood clots usually form in arteries damaged by plaque buildup, which is a process called atherosclerosis. Long-standing high blood pressure or diabetes may damage smaller blood vessels in the brain, causing a clot to form within the blood vessels and block blood flow.

Other causes include:

    Clumps of bacteria, tumor cells, or air bubbles that move through the bloodstream.

  • Conditions that cause blood cells to stick together. For example, having too many red blood cells, abnormal clotting factors, or abnormally shaped red blood cells, such as those caused by sickle cell disease, may cause blood clots to form. Inflammation in the blood vessels, which may develop from conditions such as syphilis, tuberculosis, or other inflammatory diseases.

  • A head or neck injury that results in damage to blood vessels in the head or neck.

  • A tear in the wall of a blood vessel located in the neck.

Risk factors Include:

  • Increasing age.

  • Sex.

  • Family history / Race.

  • Prior stroke / TIA.

  • Hypertension.

  • Diabetes.

  • Heart disease.

  • Rheumatic mitral valve disease.

  • Prosthetic heart valves.

  • Diabetes mellitus

  • Carotid artery / Peripheral artery disease.

  • Obesity.

  • High cholesterol.

  • Physical inactivity.

  • Illicit drugs.


Motor symptoms

  • Muscle weakness of the face, arm, or leg (usually only on one side of the body)

  • Numbness or tingling on one side of the body.

  • Weakness or clumsiness on one side.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

  • Speech disturbances.

  • Understanding or expressing spoken language.

  • Reading or writing.

  • Slurred speech.

Sensory symptoms

  • Altered feeling on one side.

  • Loss of vision on one side.

  • Loss of vision in left or right visual field.

  • Bilateral blindness.

  • Double vision.

  • Vertigo.

Non-focal Symptoms

  • Confusion.

  • Disorientation.

  • Impaired attention/concentration.

  • Diminution of all mental activity.

  • Distinguish from.

  • Isolated language or visual-spatial perception problems (may be TIA).

  • Isolated memory problems (transient global amnesia).


A physical examination should include a neurological exam, which may be abnormal during an episode but normal after the episode has passed.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.

If a TIA is suspected, the doctor may want to do tests, such as a:

    CT scan of the head.

  • MRI scan.

If blockage of the carotid arteries is suspected, you may have tests such as:

    A Doppler ultrasound.

  • A magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA).

  • An angiogram of your head and neck.

If heart problems are suspected, you may have tests such as a:

    Chest X-ray to assess the size and shape of your heart.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) or Holter monitoring or ambulatory EKG to assess heart rhythm.

  • Echocardiogram (echo) to examine the shape of the heart chambers and blood flow through them.

  • Cholesterol and triglycerides tests to check the level of these blood fats that can increase your risk for blood clots and hardening of the arteries.

Additional tests and procedures may include:

    Complete blood count (CBC).

  • Blood clotting tests, including PT, to rule out a blood disorder.

  • Blood chemistry.

  • ESR (Sedimentation rate).

  • Serum lipids.

  • Tests for syphilis.


The aim of treatment after a TIA is to reduce your risk of having a stroke, heart attack, or further TIAs. Aspects of treatment include the following:.

    Medication to reduce the risk of blood clots forming.

  • To reduce any risk factors that you may have.

  • Surgery (but this is only suitable in some cases).

If you have had a TIA, you will likely be admitted to the hospital so that doctors can determine the cause and treatment. Underlying disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and blood disorders, should be treated appropriately.

Blood thinners may be prescribed to reduce blood clotting. Your health care provider may recommend a low-fat and low-salt diet. Other dietary changes may be recommended.

Surgery may be appropriate for some people who have clogged neck arteries.

Preventive measures include:

    Do not smoke.

  • Limit your alcohol intake.

  • Do not use illicit drugs.

  • Limit cholesterol and fat in your diet.

  • Limit sodium.

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

  • Exercise regularly.

Disclaimer:The above information is just informative purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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