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What to know about a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

  • Category: Stroke, Emergency
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Dr. Sheryl Martin-Schild

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) - some refer to it as a "ministroke" but it is in fact not a stroke. It is an almost stroke and a warning sign. The same type of process that happens when you have a stroke, happens when you are having a TIA. However, this time you were lucky because the symptoms resolve completely, usually within an hour.

A TIA is not something you should take lightly. Touro Vascular Neurologist, Dr. Sheryl Martin-Schild talks briefly about TIAs and the importance of seeking treatment.

Stroke warning sign

A TIA causes symptoms similar to that of a stroke, but the difference is that TIAs don't cause permanent brain damage and they often last less than one hour, and although very rare, can last up to 24 hours. A TIA is a warning sign and you should seek medical attention immediately, even if you are experiencing minor symptoms. TIAs often come before a full stroke, and they should not be taken lightly. 


A TIA and stroke involve many of the same signs and symptoms of a stroke. 

  • Sudden numbness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion
  • Sudden trouble seeing, talking, or understanding
  • Sudden trouble with balance or walking
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache you can't explain
  • Loss of consciousness or seizure

Follow the BE FAST test to help you recognize the signs:

Ambulance icon

Get treatment

Although the symptoms of a TIA resolve in a few minutes or hours without any specific treatment, it is important that you help prevent another TIA or a full stroke from happening in the future.

RELATED: Take care of your heart

Pay attention to your risk factors

You can control or treat a number of factors — including certain health conditions and lifestyle choices — that increase your risk of a stroke. Having one or more of these risk factors doesn't mean you'll have a stroke or a TIA, but your risk increases if you have two or more of them.

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Diabetes
  • High levels of homocysteine
  • Excess weight
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Heavy drinking

RELATED: Managing your blood pressure and your cholesterol

After you have received medical attention, it is important to work with a specialist to identify the cause of the TIA and make necessary lifestyle changes, especially if the cause is unknown. 

For more information on Touro Joint Commission Certified Primary Stroke Center please visit