What is a TIA?
A transient ischaemic attack or TIA (also known as a mini-stroke) is the same as a stroke, but it lasts a short amount of time. It happens when a temporary blockage cuts off the blood supply to part of your brain. With a TIA, the blockage either dissolves on its own or moves, so that the blood supply returns to normal and your stroke symptoms disappear.
Although your stroke symptoms may not last long, a TIA is still very serious. It is a sign that there is a problem and you are at risk of having a stroke. Because of this, a TIA is often called a warning stroke.
A TIA has the same symptoms as a stroke, except they last for a short amount of time. The FAST test helps to spot the three most common signs of stroke or TIA.
- Face: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?
- Arms: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
- Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?
- Time: If you see any of these three signs, it's time to call 999.
Causes of a TIA
If you call 999 with stroke symptoms, you should be taken to hospital. If you go to your GP after TIA symptoms, they can refer you to hospital for an assessment. If a TIA is suspected, you will be given aspirin to reduce the risk of a stroke.
Seeing a specialist
A GP or paramedic will ask you about what happened. If they think you may have had a TIA, they will arrange for you to see a specialist doctor or nurse within 24 hours of your symptoms. Your appointment with a specialist might be at a TIA clinic, or in a hospital stroke unit.
If a TIA is confirmed, doctors will try to find out how it happened. You will be given treatment and advice to reduce your risk of having a stroke in future.
Jean talks about her husband’s TIA
Professor Peter Rothwell talks about TIA
Find out more
- There's much more information about TIA in our guide Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA).
- Find out more about TIA on My Stroke Guide. As well as free access to trusted advice, information and support 24/7, My Stroke Guide connects you to our online community, to find out how others manage their recovery.