Your doctor will ask about your current symptoms and your past medical history, including conditions that increase your risk of stroke - high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and certain types of heart disease. He or she will examine you and will do a test called an electrocardiogram (EKG). While examining you, your doctor may pay special attention to the circulation in your neck, where major arteries supplying the brain are located. In examining your neck, he or she will listen with a stethoscope for turbulent sounds that indicate blood is flowing through narrowed arteries. Blood tests also will be done.
To help pinpoint the cause of a TIA, your doctor may order a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your brain. To evaluate flow through blood vessels, your doctor may do other tests, including Doppler ultrasound, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or X-ray angiography. If your doctor suspects that floating blood clots are coming from your heart, special heart tests may be necessary.
The onset of any symptoms suggestive a stroke or TIA requires immediate medical attention. You can expect a TIA to last less than one hour. If symptoms are not improving quickly after one hour, a stroke is likely to occur without emergent therapy.