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Transient Ischemic Attack


A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is also called a mini-stroke. A TIA happens when blood cannot flow to part of your brain. A TIA lasts a short time, and the effects are gone in less than 24 hours. A TIA does not cause lasting damage, but it may be a warning sign before an ischemic stroke occurs. An ischemic stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked, usually by a blood clot.



  • Antiplatelets: These prevent blood clots from forming. Aspirin is an antiplatelet. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than directed.

  • Anticoagulants: You may need to take an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots. Anticoagulants prevent blood clots by thinning the blood. Warfarin is an anticoagulant. Take your medicine exactly as directed. Tell your healthcare provider if you forgot to take it, or if you took too much. Anticoagulants may cause you to bleed or bruise more easily. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric shaver. Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you take an anticoagulant. Tell all healthcare providers, including your dentist, that you take this medicine.

  • Other medicines: You may need medicine to treat diabetes, depression, high cholesterol, or blood pressure problems. You may also need medicine to decrease the pressure in your brain, reduce pain, or prevent seizures.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or neurologist in 1 to 2 days:

You may need more tests to find the cause of your TIA. If you are taking warfarin, you will need regular blood tests. Your INR levels will also need to be checked. These tests help make sure you are taking the right amount of warfarin. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent another TIA or a stroke:

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol all increase your risk of a stroke. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to manage your health problems.

Know the FAST test to recognize the signs of a stroke:

  • F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Drooping on 1 side of the mouth or face is a sign of a stroke.

  • A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. One arm that slowly comes back down or cannot be raised is a sign of a stroke.

  • S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence that you say first. Speech that is slurred or sounds strange is a sign of a stroke.

  • T = Time: Call 911 if you see any of these signs. This is an emergency.

Contact your healthcare provider or neurologist if:

  • Your blood pressure is higher or lower than you were told it should be.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have double vision or vision loss.

  • You are confused and have problems speaking or understanding speech.

  • You have weakness or numbness in your arm, leg, or face.

  • You have a severe headache or feel dizzy.

  • You are bleeding from your rectum or nose.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.