Symptoms and Signs of Transient Ischemic Attack
(TIA, Mini-Stroke)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Transient Ischemic Attack
(TIA, Mini-Stroke)

Transient ischemic attack (also termed a TIA or mini-stroke) is when an area the brain has its blood supply interrupted and produce symptoms of stroke that usually resolve quickly within a few minutes up to 24 hours as the blood supply interruption resolves. A TIA is also a warning sign of possible future strokes. The signs and symptoms of a TIA are virtually identical to those of a stroke except that the symptoms resolve. Signs and symptoms of a TIA are neurological deficits that can affect the ability to move or feel on one side of the body, speech and vision can be affected and the person may experience confusion, difficulty seeing words and have the inability to follow commands; they also may develop dizziness, loss of balance and/or coordination, difficulty walking, a sudden fall (drop attack) and a sudden loss of vision in one eye that results spontaneously (amaurosis fugax).

The cause of transient ischemic attacks is an intermittent decrease or stoppage of blood and oxygen to brain cells; this blockage can originate from blood clot formation, debris from occluded blood vessels outside of the brain (for example, a carotid artery with plaque deposits) and by pressure on the brain’s blood vessels caused by some bleeding within the brain. For TIAs, these causes resolve spontaneously within minutes to 24 hours.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.