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What Is a TIA?


A TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) is an early warning that a stroke (also called a brain attack) is coming. A TIA is a temporary stroke. The symptoms last from a minute to as long as 24 hours. It causes no lasting damage. But the effects of a stroke, if it happens, can be very serious and lasting. If you think you are having symptoms of a TIA or stroke — even if they don’t last — get medical help right away.

Closeup of telephone with "911" superimposed on it.
If you have any symptoms of a TIA or stroke, call 911 and your doctor as soon as possible.
Symptoms of TIA and Stroke

Symptoms may come on suddenly and last for a few seconds or a few hours. You may have symptoms only once. Or they may come and go for days. These symptoms of a TIA are a warning sign that you are at risk of having a more serious and debilitating stroke. If you notice any of the following symptoms, don’t wait. Call 911 or emergency services right away:

  • Sudden weakness, numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling in your face, arm, or leg.

  • Sudden trouble seeing in 1 or both eyes; double vision.

  • Sudden slurred speech, trouble talking, or problems understanding others when they speak

  • Sudden, severe headache

  • Sudden dizziness or a feeling of spinning

  • Sudden loss of balance or falling

  • Blackouts or seizures

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Sweetwood, Jane, RN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/27/2013
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