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What is a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)?

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A Transient Ischemic Attack, or TIA, occurs when blood flow to the brain is hindered or slowed and is similar to a mild stroke, according to WebMD. A TIA is often referred to as a mini stroke because the effects are typically short lived and mild; however, having one could mean that a patient is likely to have another, more serious stroke in the future, which can cause permanent damage.

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Blood clots, which are often caused by hardening of the arteries, a heart attack or abnormal heart conditions are leading causes of Transient Ischemic Attacks. Most TIAs dissipate after 10 to 20 minutes. Symptoms of a TIA include unexpected numbness, tingling, weakness or paralysis in the face, arm or leg; vision changes; difficulty speaking; confusion or difficulty comprehending simple sentences; and issues with walking or balance. These symptoms are usually sudden, and after a short time, they go away without needed intervention.

A series of tests can be performed by a doctor after a patient has suffered from a TIA, including a CT scan, an MRI, an MRA or an angiogram to view images of the brain or blood vessels, a Doppler ultrasound to check blood flow, an echocardiogram to check the heart and blood flow, an EKG to measure the heart's rhythm or blood tests to check other possible issues that may have caused the TIA.

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