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Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and Mini Stroke 
TIAs, often called mini strokes, share similar characteristics to strokes in that they occur when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted. What distinguishes a TIA from a stroke, however, is its duration and impact. TIAs typically only last about ten minutes, though some can last as long as 24 hours. And unlike full-blown strokes, they do not cause any irreversible neurological damage.

TIA symptoms are generally the same as the symptoms of stroke and include:
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm, leg or face—especially on one side of the body
  • Dizziness or loss of balance and coordination
  • Blurry vision in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty speaking and/or understanding speech
  • Sudden headache
  • Extreme drowsiness
About 240,000 people in the U.S. have TIA attacks every year, most often striking people over 60 with risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, carotid artery disease, excessive use of alcohol, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and heart disease. They are diagnosed using ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and CT scans to examine the arteries that lead to the brain. In addition to a full physical exam checking body temperature, blood pressure and breathing patterns, a complete blood cell count and measurement of glucose levels, creatinine levels and electrolytes are some the further tests that doctors use to diagnose TIAs. 

Because most TIAs only last a few minutes, doctors should talk to has many people as possible that may have witnessed the attack, including family members and emergency medical services personnel. Knowing when the symptoms of the attack first began can help them determine whether a true TIA has occurred as opposed to a seizure, migraine or hypoglycemic incident. Learning about a patient’s medical history, and whether or not he/she has suffered a recent head or neck trauma, has used alcohol or oral contraceptives of has a history of migraine or a family history of stroke makes a big difference in determining the best approach to care.