Transient ischemic attack

Alternative Names

Mini stroke; TIA; Little stroke

Definition of Transient ischemic attack

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an episode in which a person has -like symptoms for up to 1-2 hours.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is caused by temporary disturbance of blood supply to an area of the brain, which results in a sudden, brief decrease in brain function. (A decrease in brain function is called a neurologic deficit.)


Symptoms begin suddenly, last only a short time (from a few minutes to 1 to 2 hours), and disappear completely. They may occur again at a later time. Symptoms usually occur on the same side of the body if more than one body part is involved.

Signs and tests

TIAs do not show brain changes on CT or MRI scans. (Most strokes do show changes on such tests.) Because symptoms and signs may have completely disappeared by the time one gets to the hospital, a diagnosis of a TIA may be made on a person’s medical history alone.


The goal is to prevent a stroke from occurring.

Expectations (prognosis)

TIAs do not cause lasting damage to the brain,


David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. – 6/16/2010

Transient Ischemic attack (TIA)

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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