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Transient Ischemic Attack
(TIA, Mini-Stroke)

What Is Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)?

The control centers of the brain

The brain controls how our body functions, how we think, how we see, how we talk, and how we move. The signals to and from the brain are transmitted through the spinal cord to the rest of the body.

  • The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. This includes movement and sensation.
  • Speech centers usually are located in the Broca's area on the left side of the brain.
  • Vision is controlled by the back of the brain in the occipital lobes.
  • The carotid arteries provide the majority of the blood supply to these parts of the brain (known as the anterior circulation).
  • Balance and coordination are controlled by the cerebellum, or the base of the brain, and its blood supply comes from the vertebral arteries located in the bony canals in the back of the vertebral column (referred to as the posterior circulation).

When an area of the brain loses its blood supply it stops working and the part of the body it controls also stops working. This is what happens with a stroke or CVA (cerebrovascular accident).

When the brain loses blood supply, it tries to restore blood flow. If blood supply is restored, function may return to the affected brain cells, permitting return of function to the affected body part. This is what happens with a TIA (transient ischemic attack). Some may consider this a mini-stroke, however, in reality, it is a stroke that has resolved or has improved functionality in the affected body part.

By definition, a TIA resolves within 24 hours, but most TIA symptoms resolve within a few minutes.

TIAs are often warning signs of a future stroke. The risk of a stroke increases dramatically in the days after a transient ischemic attack, and the TIA may offer an opportunity to find a cause or minimize the risk to prevent the permanent neurologic damage that results because of a stroke.

Last Reviewed 11/21/2017

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Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke)?

Symptoms of a TIA are the same as symptoms of a stroke. But symptoms of a TIA occur suddenly and don't last very long. Most of the time, they go away in 10 to 20 minutes. They may include:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden trouble speaking.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Trasient Ischemic Attack »

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) can be considered an acute episode of temporary neurologic dysfunction caused by a vascular occlusion.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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