Transient Ischemic Attack

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain. People experiencing this condition are at risk for a severe stroke that can strike at any time. Henry Ford Health maintains the highest standards for stroke prevention and emergency evaluation. Our commitment to excellence helps lower your risk so you can get back to your busy life.

Stroke Patient Tony
First came the TIA, a mini-stroke, caused by a blocked carotid artery.

A day later, Tony suffered a full-blown stroke.

Transient Ischemic Attack Symptoms

TIA symptoms include:

  • Coordination problems, including trouble walking or standing
  • Difficulty speaking, understanding others or confusion
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Weakness in your face, arms or legs on one or both sides
  • Vision problems, including double vision and sudden blindness

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, follow the National Stroke Association’s recommendations and think F.A.S.T.: 

  • F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
  • A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or does it sound strange?
  • T = Time: If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to dial 911.

Studies show stroke patients who arrive at the hospital by ambulance receive faster treatment than those arriving on their own.

Risk Factors for TIA

Risk factors for transient ischemic attack include:

  • Heart and vascular disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and carotid artery disease
  • Lifestyle factors, such as not getting enough physical activity or using tobacco
  • Other medical problems, like sleep apnea and diabetes
  • Social habits, which include using tobacco or regularly drinking too much alcohol

Why Timely Care for TIA Stroke Matters

TIA is sometimes referred to as a mini-stroke, but it’s more accurate to call it a warning stroke because it’s a sign that you need immediate medical care. TIA symptoms can come on suddenly, causing the brain to go without oxygen for a short time. There’s typically no permanent damage with TIA like there can be with a more severe stroke.

Even if TIA symptoms go away, you should seek emergency care as quickly as possible, because:

  • Symptoms can linger or quickly change: TIA symptoms can last a few minutes or a few hours. There’s no way of knowing when they’ll go away or whether they’ll get worse.
  • It could be a stroke: The symptoms of TIA are typically the same as those of a stroke. If it is a stroke, receiving treatment within a few hours makes a big difference in your recovery.
  • Timely evaluation is key: Our highly skilled stroke team quickly confirms or rules out TIA. If necessary, we deliver emergency treatment.
  • We can help you avoid a stroke: Our experts accurately pinpoint the cause of your symptoms and lower your risk of a future stroke.

TIA Care at Henry Ford: Why Choose Us?

Henry Ford has the most fellowship-trained stroke neurologists in southeast Michigan. This level of training helps us accurately determine whether you are experiencing TIA, a stroke or some other neurological condition. We are available 24 hours a day. Get more information about acute stroke services.

Our complete approach to TIA care includes follow-up services from Henry Ford stroke experts in our stroke and cerebrovascular occlusion clinic. A detailed assessment helps us determine your future stroke risk and medical conditions or lifestyle factors contributing to it. We then develop a plan to lower your risk. Find out more about stroke prevention.

Emergency Stroke Evaluation and Treatment

TIA evaluation often includes imaging tests. We use advanced imaging technology to rapidly produce high-resolution images of your brain and its arteries and veins. This information helps us pinpoint blocked or partially blocked arteries with precision, so you receive appropriate care.

If you are experiencing a stroke or if a partial blockage is about to cause a stroke, we start treatment immediately. Your care may include a clot-busting drug, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). This drug is only effective if you receive it within 4.5 hours of when symptoms begin.

For severe blockages, or if it’s too late to start tPA, you still have options. You may be eligible for a minimally invasive procedure. Specialists use long thin tubes inserted in your groin to access and remove the brain blockage.

Preventing a Stroke After TIA

The preventive services that are best for you depend on your stroke risk factors. We may recommend:

  • Medications to control high blood pressure, high cholesterol or prevent blood clots
  • Treatments for other medical conditions, including services to help manage diabetes
  • Procedures to open up narrowed arteries
  • Lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco or becoming more physically active

Stroke diagnosis and treatment
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