Q: What is a TIA?
TIA stands for Transient Ischemic Attack. Some people call it a "mini stroke," because it's caused when blood temporarily stops flowing to part of the brain. It can cause many of the same early symptoms of a stroke—like weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, severe headache, loss of balance, and confusion—but those symptoms may only last a few minutes or hours. Some people may have multiple TIAs.
Even though most TIAs do not cause any lasting damage, it's important to seek medical attention right away. That's because, about one-third of the time, a TIA will be followed by a real stroke, often occurring within a few hours or days.
TIAs are often caused by a buildup of plaque in a person’s arteries, temporarily blocking blood flow or lowering blood pressure to the brain, or leading to the formation of a blood clot. You can lower your risk for TIA and stroke by making lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, controlling your diabetes, and getting regular exercise. If you have high blood pressure, it's also important to limit your sodium. While a TIA can be scary, it can also be an opportunity to get medical attention before a more serious stroke can occur.