Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): Causes & Symptoms

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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Transient ischemic attacks are temporary cardiovascular episodes with dangerous repercussions, so it is important to understand the underlying causes and symptoms.

Causes of Transient Ischemic Attack

Commonly known as a mini-stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) causes neurological dysfunction due to a temporary loss of blood flow to the focal brain, spinal cord, or retina. A transient ischemic attack is temporary, sometimes lasting only a few seconds or minutes whereas a normal stroke is caused by a blood clot that blocks part of the blood flow to the brain.

A doctor using a blood pressure monitor or sphygmomanometer on a patient to check high blood pressure levels

The actual cause of a TIA is a buildup of plaque in the arteries, commonly known as atherosclerosis. That blockage can slow down the flow of blood, and thus cause a TIA, or cause a clot to form and move towards the brain from another part of the body. Fortunately, there is not typically any permanent damage as a result of a TIA, but it can be a warning sign that you are at high risk for strokes and other cardiovascular issues.

Transient Ischemic Attack- Risk Factors

Some of the risk factors for a transient ischemic attack include

  • Family history of strokes, age, race (African Americans are disproportionately more likely to suffer from TIA)
  • Previous history of cardiovascular problems, such as other TIAs
  • Lifestyle factors – obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Drugs
  • Birth control

Symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack

Symptoms of ischemia include:

  • Weakness
  • Numbness, or contralateral paralysis (paralysis on the opposite side of the body from where the ischemia occurs)
  • Trouble with your vision
  • Speech impediments
  • Dizziness and balance issues
  • Sudden confusion
  • Inability to focus

These symptoms can last for as little as five minutes, up to 24 hours, but the effects are always temporary. When the symptoms first appear, they feel a great deal like a stroke, which is why TIAs are particularly frightening for people.

You should call 911 and go to the hospital, as mini-strokes may happen in rapid succession, or be a precursor to a full stroke or heart attack. Seeking medical attention is essential, despite the fact that there are a number of home preventative methods and treatments that could be effective. Protection Status
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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