What is Transient Ischemic Attack?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a ministroke, a warning sign that a full-blown ischemic stroke may be in your future.

TIAs produce short-lived stroke symptoms, such as sudden weakness in the face and speech problems that last no more than 5 to 20 minutes. They do not result in permanent brain damage. The cause: a temporary blockage of blood flow because of a clot in an artery carrying blood to the brain.

The symptoms of a TIA should be taken seriously: Approximately 15 percent of all ischemic strokes are preceded by a TIA, and up to 17 percent of TIAs are followed by a full-blown ischemic stroke in the next three months.

In addition, 12 to 13 percent of people die within a year of their TIA. For these reasons, a TIA is as much of an emergency as a full-blown stroke.

How to handle a TIA

Calling 911 and receiving an immediate medical evaluation can help avert a stroke. And if you happen to have a full-blown stroke during evaluation in the hospital, you’ll likely be able to receive the clot-busting drug tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) within the 1- to 4.5-hour window and increase your odds of survival and full recovery.

Unfortunately, about half of people who have a TIA never tell their doctor and thus do not receive the treatment needed to prevent a stroke.

Learn more about stroke prevention and the importance of rehabilitation in stroke recovery.

Meet Our Writer

HealthAfter50 was published by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, providing up-to-date, evidence-based research and expert advice on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of health conditions affecting adults in middle age and beyond. It was previously part of Remedy Health Media's network of digital and print publications, which also include HealthCentral; HIV/AIDS resources The Body and The Body Pro; the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter; and the Berkeley Wellness website. All content from HA50 merged into Healthcentral.com in 2018.