Similar to a stroke, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or “mini-stroke” occurs when blood flow to the brain stops briefly, causing brain cells to stop receiving oxygen.
A TIA lasts less than 24 hours and is usually a few minutes to an hour.
TIA: what you should know
- People who have a TIA are more likely to have a stroke. A mini-stroke should be taken as a serious warning sign for a full-blown stroke.
- Because it is not possible to know if someone is experiencing a TIA or a stroke, stroke symptoms should always be treated as an emergency.
- The risk factors for a TIA are the same as the risk factors for stroke
How can I get help for a TIA?
The signs of a TIA are the same as signs of a stroke, but they do not last as long. Although the symptoms go away more quickly than those of a stroke, they still require immediate action.
If you or a loved one has sudden onset of stroke symptoms, remember to act FAST:
- F: Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the smile drooping?
- A: Arm weakness or numbness, particularly on one side of the body. Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S: Speech that is slurred or difficult to understand. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Do the words come out clearly?
- T: Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Care for TIAs at Rush
Immediate care: The Rush Stroke Program treats TIAs as medical emergencies. Patients with suspected TIAs are admitted to the stroke neurology team for a full stroke examination and initiation of treatment. The evaluation can typically be completed within 24 to 48 hours in the hospital.
Reduce risk for future stroke : Because people who have had a TIA are at a greater risk for a future stroke, clinicians at Rush work with patients to reduce their risk factors in a variety of ways:
- Modify lifestyle behavior: Stroke doctors at Rush help patients control conditions that make a full-blown stroke more likely to occur, such as those noted above.
- Prevent clots: Stroke doctors help patients find the right medications to help prevent clots.
- Explore surgical options: To improve blood supply to the brain, some patients may need to also have surgery to remove plaque that is causing arteries in the neck to narrow.
Why choose Rush for TIA care
- The Rush Stroke Program has been certified by the Joint Commission as a comprehensive stroke center. This certification recognizes hospitals that foster better outcomes for the full spectrum of stroke care, including TIA, and the ability to care for the most complex stroke cases.
- The Rush Stroke Program has been awarded the Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award by the American Stroke Association — the highest level — for success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care.
- Neurologists at Rush are leaders in providing TIA and stroke care throughout the region. Through the Rush Telestroke Network, stroke neurologists from Rush remotely assess patients at community hospitals in the region. This helps emergency room physicians at these hospitals determine if a patient is a candidate for the clot-busting medication, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), or if they need to be transferred to Rush for more complex stroke care.