Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a stroke in which the symptoms resolve quickly, usually spontaneously and usually within minutes to hours. In most cases, TIAs are due to temporary blockage in a blood vessel to or within the brain. The blockage may be due to a small blood clot or a cholesterol/fatty plaque that has traveled to the brain (an embolus) or formed within the brain. There is no way to tell a stroke from a TIA when symptoms start: a TIA simply resolves quickly, usually before there is permanent damage. In either case, immediate attention should be sought.

Figure 1: Blood supply to the brain with atherosclerosis of the carotid artery.

Figure 2: Ruptured atherosclerotic plaque with blood clot formation. A part of the blood clot has broken off.

Figure 3: Blocked blood flow during a transient ischemic attack.

Figure 4: Return of blood flow and brain function following a TIA.


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