What Are Some Symptoms of a Transient Ischemic Attack?

Symptoms of a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, include sudden weakness and numbness or paralysis in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side, states Mayo Clinic. Victims of a TIA may also experience blindness in one or both eyes, slurred speech and loss of balance.

The symptoms of a TIA resemble those of a stroke. They occur suddenly and are always temporary, usually subsiding within 10 to 20 minutes, according to WebMD. Both stroke and transient ischemic attack result from an interruption in the blood supply to the brain. In the case of ischemic attack, the interruption is temporary, generally lasting from one to 24 hours, notes Healthline.

Medical tests that help determine the cause of a transient ischemic attack include a physical exam, carotid ultrasonography, computerized tomography angiography, magnetic resonance angiography and arteriography, according to Mayo Clinic. These tests examine the blood supply to the brain and detect narrowing and occlusion of the arteries. Computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging help find damage caused by a stroke, and an echocardiogram looks for clots in the heart.

Potential victims of transient ischemic attacks and stroke share the same risk factors, such as family history and age, states Mayo Clinic. Certain health conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and lifestyle choices like inactivity and cigarette smoking, also increase the chance of ichemic attack or stroke.

While symptoms of a TIA are short-lived, because they may be a precursor to stroke, victims should seek medical attention right away, notes Mayo Clinic. Treatments may include anti-platelet or anticoagulant drugs. In some cases, a doctor may perform surgery to clear the arteries.

Treatment for a TIA generally involves early testing and focusing on preventing another TIA, according to WebMD. The treating physicians may recommend medications, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, dipyridamole with aspirin, and warfarin. Prevention methods include lowering blood pressure, changing diet and controlling diabetes. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to reopen narrow arteries.