A transientischemic attack (TIA) is a transient episode of neurologic dysfunction caused by ischemia (loss of blood flow) to brain or retina without permanent tissue injury. TIAs are often labeled as “mini-strokes,” because they don’t lead to permanent neuronal damage. But the term “warning stroke” is more appropriate, because they can indicate the likelihood of a coming stroke. A TIA is an important warning sign to signal a problem that may lead to disability, further strokes or even death. TIA was originally defined clinically by the temporary nature of less than 24 hours of the associated neurologicsymptoms. Recently, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) defined TIA as transient episode of neurologic dysfunction caused by focal brain, spinal cord, or retinal ischemia, without acute infarction lasting less than a hour.
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 sudden onset of:
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis in face, arm or leg, typically on one side of the body
- Slurred or garbled speech or difficulty understanding others
- Blindness in one or both eyes or double vision
- Dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
When to see a doctor Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you’ve had a transient ischemic attack. Prompt evaluation and identification of potentially treatable conditions may help you prevent a stroke.