Transient Ischemic Attack

Working closely with your care team is important.

JoAnne M. Foody, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief

Your brain is your body’s master control center. It directs your movements, mood, thoughts, ability to learn and reason. It is enormously efficient. But if blood flow to the brain is disrupted—even for a few minutes—your body will react. For example, you may notice slurring of your speech, trouble seeing, loss of balance or weakness—often on one side of body.

Unlike larger strokes, these “mini-strokes” are fleeting. They are called transient ischemic attacks (TIA). Fortunately, unlike larger strokes, a TIA usually doesn’t last long enough to cause any damage. However, it is a big red flag for more serious problems.

If left untreated, TIAs can be followed by more severe strokes that can result in permanent damage to your body, even death. In fact, about one in three people who have a TIA suffer a stroke within the next year. So don’t ignore it or wait to see whether your symptoms will go away.

If you’ve had a TIA, you need to work together with your health care team to map out a plan to prevent a larger stroke. This often means making lifestyle changes—for example, eating a healthful diet, exercising regularly and treating related problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Remember, the choices you make each day can make a difference in your symptoms and general heart health.

Use this condition center to learn more about transient ischemic attacks, create a list of questions to ask your health care provider, and much more.

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