A transient ischemic attack (spelled ischaemic in British English) (abbreviated as TIA, often colloquially referred to as "mini stroke") is a change in the blood supply to a particular area of the brain, resulting in brief neurologic dysfunction that persists, by definition, for less than 24 hours. If symptoms persist longer, then it is categorized as a stroke.
A cerebral infarct that lasts longer than 24 hours, but less than 72 hours is termed a reversible ischemic neurologic deficit or RIND.
Symptoms vary widely from person to person, depending on the area of the brain involved. The most frequent symptoms include temporary loss of vision (typically amaurosis fugax); difficulty speaking (aphasia); weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis); and numbness or tingling (paresthesia), usually on one side of the body. Impairment of consciousness is very uncommon. There have been cases of temporary and partial paralysis affecting the face and tongue of the afflicted. The symptoms of a TIA are short lived and usually last a few seconds to a few minutes and most symptoms disappear within 60 minutes. Some individuals may have a lingering feeling that something odd happened to the body. Dizziness, lack of coordination or poor balance are also symptoms related to TIA. Symptoms will vary in severity.
The diagnosis of a TIA includes a history and a physical exam. There are several radiological tests that are done to evaluate patients who have had a TIA. This includes a CT scan or an MRI of the brain, Ultrasound of the neck, an echocardiogram of the heart. In most cases, the source of atherosclerosis is usually identified with an ultrasound.
Effects of a TIA
Patients diagnosed with a TIA are sometimes said to have had a warning for an approaching stroke. If the time period of blood supply impairment lasts more than a few minutes, the nerve cells of that area of the brain die and cause permanent neurologic deficit. One third of the people with TIA later have recurrent TIAs and one third have a stroke because of permanent nerve cell loss.
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