TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack)

What is a TIA?

TIA or Transient Ischaemic Attack is a temporary interruption in the blood supply to the brain and is often referred to as a mini stroke. You may experience stroke-like symptoms which can last a few minutes or longer but which normally resolve within 24 hours.

Causes of a TIA

In most cases, a TIA is caused by a tiny blood clot that becomes stuck in a small blood vessel or artery in the brain. This blocks the blood flow starving part of the brain of oxygen. The affected part of the brain is without oxygen for just a few minutes, and soon recovers. This is because the blood clot either breaks up quickly, or nearby blood vessels are able to compensate.

Tests following a TIA

After a suspected TIA, you will normally be advised to have several tests including:

  • A CT or MRI scan of your brain to ensure that you have had a TIA and not a stroke. In a few cases, a stroke can occur with complete and quick recovery. The scan is also done to make sure there are no other brain problems (for example a brain tumour) that may have given you symptoms that mimic a TIA.
  • An ultrasound scan to check for narrowing (stenosis) of the carotid arteries.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) to check for abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Blood tests to ensure that you don’t have diabetes or high cholesterol and to make sure that you are not anaemic, and do not have kidney problems.
  • Blood pressure check, as high blood pressure is a risk factor for TIA and stroke, and needs to be treated

Aims of the tests

  • To check for any underlying problems that might have caused the TIA
  • To check if you have a problem that increases your risk of blood clots forming
  • To ensure that you haven’t had a stroke rather than a TIA

Treatment following a TIA

The aim of treatment after a TIA is to reduce your risk of having a stroke, heart attack, or further TIAs. Aspects of treatment may include the following:

  • Medication to reduce the risk of blood clots forming
  • Advice to reduce any risk factors that you may have
  • Surgery in certain circumstances

Contact Information

Stroke Coordinator
Stroke Team
T: 020 3315 5269

Nell Gwynne Ward
4th Floor, Lift Bank B
T: 020 3315 8431/2

TIA Services
Medical Day Unit

Ground Floor, Lift Bank D
T: 020 3315 8067

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
369 Fulham Road
London
SW10 9NH

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