What is a TIA?
A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or “mini stroke” is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain.
The disruption in blood supply results in a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can cause sudden symptoms similar to a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance, and numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs.
However, a TIA doesn’t last as long as a stroke. The effects often only last for a few minutes or hours and fully resolve within 24 hours.
In the early stages of a TIA, it’s not possible to tell whether you’re having a TIA or a full stroke, so it’s important to phone the emergency services immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Even if the symptoms disappear while you’re waiting for the ambulance to arrive, an assessment in hospital should still be carried out.
A TIA is a warning that you may be at risk of having a full stroke in the near future, and an assessment can help doctors to determine the best way to reduce the chances of this happening.
If you think you may have had a TIA previously, but the symptoms have passed and you didn’t seek medical advice at the time, make an urgent appointment with your GP. They can determine whether to refer you for a hospital assessment.