Name: Transient Ischemic Attack
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Transient Ischemic Attack -- Brief reversible episodes of focal, nonconvulsive ischemic dysfunction of the brain having a duration of less than 24 hours, and usually less than one hour, caused by transient thrombotic or embolic blood vessel occlusion or stenosis. Events may be classified by arterial distribution, temporal pattern, or etiology (e.g., embolic vs. thrombotic). (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, pp814-6)
What is Transient Ischemic Attack?
transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a transient stroke that lasts only a
few minutes. It occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is
briefly interrupted. TIA symptoms, which usually occur suddenly, are
similar to those of stroke but do not last as long. Most symptoms of a
TIA disappear within an hour, although they may persist for up to 24
hours. Symptoms can include: numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or
leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion or difficulty in
talking or understanding speech; trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
and difficulty with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and
Is there any treatment?
there is no way to tell whether symptoms are from a TIA or an acute
stroke, patients should assume that all stroke-like symptoms signal an
emergency and should not wait to see if they go away. A prompt
evaluation (within 60 minutes) is necessary to identify the cause of
the TIA and determine appropriate therapy. Depending on a patient's
medical history and the results of a medical examination, the doctor
may recommend drug therapy or surgery to reduce the risk of stroke in
people who have had a TIA. The use of antiplatelet agents, particularly
aspirin, is a standard treatment for patients at risk for stroke.
People with atrial fibrillation (irregular beating of the heart) may be
What is the prognosis?
are often warning signs that a person is at risk for a more serious and
debilitating stroke. About one-third of those who have a TIA will have
an acute stroke some time in the future. Many strokes can be prevented
by heeding the warning signs of TIAs and treating underlying risk
factors. The most important treatable factors linked to TIAs and stroke
are high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, heart disease, carotid
artery disease, diabetes, and heavy use of alcohol. Medical help is
available to reduce and eliminate these factors. Lifestyle changes such
as eating a balanced diet, maintaining healthy weight, exercising, and
enrolling in smoking and alcohol cessation programs can also reduce
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