Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) (cont.)

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What are the risk factors for transient ischemic attack (TIA)?

The risk factors for TIA or stroke are the same as those for other vascular disease, similar to heart attack (coronary artery disease) or peripheral vascular disease, which causes decreased blood flow to the legs. These risk factors include:

  • family history
  • smoking,
  • high blood pressure,
  • high cholesterol, and
  • diabetes.

Moreover, any condition that results in stagnant blood flow and or clotting may result in a TIA due to embolization of a blood clot. Such conditions may include atrial fibrillation, large heart attacks, and severe weakness of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) .

What are the symptoms of transient ischemic attack (TIA)?

The intensity and location of the blood limitation to the brain will determine what symptoms will occur as a result of a stroke or TIA. Many people experience confusion, weakness, and lethargy. If the loss of blood supply is in an area supplied by the middle cerebral artery, a classic sign may include weakness or paralysis and numbness of one side of the body. The whole side may be affected, or just one limb. Often there is a facial droop. If the stroke is on the left side of the body where the speech centers are usually located, there may be difficulty understanding words or speaking. Partial vision loss may also be part of the constellation of symptoms.

Strokes involving the vertebral arteries decrease blood supply to the base of the brain and may cause a drop attack (a sudden fall while walking or standing, and then a quick recovery), an unexpected collapse, incoordination, or difficulty walking.

The important distinction between stroke and TIA is resolution of the symptoms. By definition, the symptoms of a TIA must completely resolve. And, while this most often occurs within the first few minutes after symptom onset, it may take up to 24 hours to have complete return to normal function.

A special type of TIA is amaurosis fugax. Transient blindness in one eye occurs because debris from a narrowed carotid artery clogs the artery (ophthalmic artery) that supplies blood to the retina of the eye.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/30/2014

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Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your TIA?
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) - Causes Question: If known, what was the cause of a TIA in you, a friend or relative?
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) - Diagnosis Question: Describe the tests and exams you or a relative experienced that led to a diagnosis of TIA.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment or medication did you receive for a TIA?
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