Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or also called a mild stroke is a mild stroke that lasts a short time. This condition is caused by a temporary disruption in the supply of blood to parts of the brain, causing oxygen deficiency in the brain. TIA causes symptoms similar to stroke. Symptoms last from several minutes to several hours or subside within 24 hours.

Symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Symptoms of TIA or mild stroke that arise depends on which part of the brain is affected. Signs and symptoms of TIA are similar to the onset of a stroke, including the following:

  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech or difficulty understanding others
  • Blindness in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Severe headaches for no apparent reason

To find out the symptoms of TIA easily, here’s how to recognize the symptoms of a mild stroke with the FAST method:

  • Face

One side of the face may go down because some facial muscles are paralyzed. Eyes or mouth droop, and it’s hard to smile.

  • Arms

Weakness or numbness in the arm causes difficulty in lifting one or both arms.

  • Speech

Slurred speech, unclear or unable to speak at all.

  • Time

If you experience any of the symptoms above, contact medical emergency services immediately to get the right treatment.

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mild stroke by the FAST method is very important if you live with people who are at high risk for TIA, such as the elderly, people with high blood pressure (hypertension), or diabetics. FAST also reminded that the sooner medical treatment was obtained, the better the chances of recovery.

When to see a doctor?

Transient ischemic attacks usually last for hours or days before a stroke, therefore it is very important to immediately consult a doctor to get proper medical help.

If you or someone around you have a sudden, mild stroke, seek medical help immediately. Rapid treatment and identification of potentially treatable conditions can help prevent strokes.

Causes of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

The cause of a mild stroke is the accumulation of plaque and air bubbles in the blood vessels which causes the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain is obstructed. Blockage of blood flow causes impaired brain function and causes symptoms.

TIA is similar to stroke, but still has differences. Unlike strokes, plaque and air clots in blood vessels cause TIA, which lasts briefly and usually does not cause permanent damage.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Risk Factors

Factors that can increase the risk of transient ischemic attack consist of three categories, including:

Factors that cannot be changed:

  • Family history of having a TIA or stroke
  • Age above 55 years
  • Gender, men are at higher risk than women
  • Never experienced TIA before
  • Have sickle cell anemia
  • Race, black people have a higher risk

Health problem factors:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infections or abnormal heart rhythms
  • Carotid artery disease, blockage of blood vessels from the neck to the brain
  • Peripheral artery disease, blockage of blood vessels to the arms and legs
  • Diabetes
  • High homocysteine ​​levels, increased levels of amino acids cause the arteries to thicken and leave scars
  • Overweight (obesity)

Lifestyle factors:

  • Smoke
  • Not physically active
  • Eat foods high in fat and salt
  • Drink alcoholic drinks
  • Use of illegal drugs
  • Use of birth control pills

Diagnosis of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Signs and symptoms of transient ischemic attack do not last long, so there is a possibility the symptoms will disappear before getting media treatment. Although the symptoms have subsided, the doctor may need to do a neurological examination, including several tests to check skills, such as memory and coordination.

During the examination, the doctor will ask questions about how long the symptoms last. Then the answers received can help the doctor rule out other conditions that might have similar symptoms.

If you are suspected of having a TIA, your doctor will refer to a neurologist for further tests. Specialists can carry out a number of tests to find the factors that cause TIA, with the following tests:

  • Blood tests: Tests are done by checking blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood clotting abilities.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): This test aims to record the electrical activity and heart rhythm.
  • Echocardiogram: A scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce
    image of the structure and pumping of the heart.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: Scan to produce 3D images that can show aneurysms, bleeding, or abnormalities of blood vessels in the brain.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A scan that provides a more detailed view of the brain than a CT scan, and this test can help find brain damage.
  • Ultrasonography (USG): A scan that uses sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body, especially to find the narrowing or clotting of blood.

Complications of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Although TIA only lasts for a short time, this condition needs to be watched out because if left or not treated immediately can increase the risk of stroke.

Stroke can damage brain cells and the more damage there is, the more health problems, including:

  • Liquid buildup
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Convulsions
  • Problems with memory

That is why, as soon as possible to get the right medical treatment.

Treatment of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

After determining the cause of a mild stroke, the doctor will perform treatments to treat abnormalities and prevent strokes. Your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce blood clots or may recommend surgery, and other treatments.

Here are some ways to deal with minor strokes:

1. Medicines

Providing drugs to reduce the likelihood of a stroke after a mild stroke. The drug given depends on the location, causes, and severity:

  • Anti-platelet drug. This drug makes platelets, to prevent blood clots from clotting. Commonly used drugs are aspirin, clopidogrel, aggrenox, dipyridamole.
  • Anticoagulants. These drugs include heparin and warfarin, which can also prevent blood clots. Heparin is used for a short time and warfarin for a longer period of time. These drugs require careful attention, because if there is atrial fibrillation, your doctor may prescribe other types of anticoagulants, such as dabigatran.
  • Medication for high blood pressure (hypertension). If you have hypertension, you will be offered antihypertensive drugs. This is because high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing TIA. These drugs include thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and beta-blockers.
  • Statins. If you have high cholesterol, you will be advised to take a medication known as a statin. This drug is to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by inhibiting enzymes in the liver that produce cholesterol. Statins that are often given to people who have experienced TIA include atorvastatin, simvastatin and rosuvastatin.

2. Operation

How to deal with minor strokes can also be done by surgery. Surgery is performed if you have moderate or severe narrowing of the arteries in the neck (carotid). This surgery aims to clear the carotid arteries from plaque buildup before the onset of TIA or stroke.

The surgical procedure is performed by making an incision to open an artery, removing the plaque, and then closing the artery again.

3. Angioplasty

A procedure called carotid angioplasty or stenting is one way to treat minor strokes. This procedure uses a tool such as a balloon to open a blocked artery and attach a small wire hose (stent) to the artery to keep it open.

Prevention of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Some lifestyle changes can be made to help prevent TIA and stroke. The following are:

  • Eat healthy and balanced food. Usually it is recommended to eat foods low in fat, low in salt, high in fiber, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Reducing salt intake. If you have hypertension, avoid salty foods and not add salt to the food.
  • Exercise regularly. At least do moderate intensity activities, such as cycling or brisk walking, or high intensity activities such as running, swimming, or riding a bicycle.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, stop slowly to reduce the risk of future stroke
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks. Men and women are advised to limit or even avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Because obesity can increase other risks, such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
  • Diabetes control. Manage diabetes and hypertension with diet, exercise and weight control.
  • Do not use illegal drugs. Drugs such as cocaine are associated with an increased risk of TIA or stroke.


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