Fatty deposits that temporarily block an artery supplying blood to the brain cause a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, explains Mayo Clinic. These fatty deposits, called plaques, are build-ups of cholesterol within the blood vessels. Sometimes a blood clot from another part of the body, typically the heart, causes a TIA.
A TIA has the same causes as a ischemic stroke, notes Mayo Clinic. However, with a TIA, the blockage is brief and causes no damage. Due to the similarities between the two medical emergencies, some people call a TIA a mini stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. Medical professionals often view these TIAs as warning strokes and prescribe treatments to reduce the risk of a full stroke.
Common TIA symptoms include muscle weakness, pain, temporary blindness in one eye, dizziness or lack of coordination, notes Healthline. Muscle weakness and pain often occur on one side of the body. People experiencing a TIA may have an unsteady walk or affected gait. They may also have difficulty speaking. The intensity of the symptoms range from barely perceptible to severe.
TIAs can last for one minute up to 24 hours, according to Healthline. The typical time frame for a TIA is a few minutes to two hours. However, once a TIA begins, someone experiencing one should seek immediate medical attention.