Transcient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Fig - Transcient Ischemic Attack

Definition:
Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are episodes of temporary and focal cerebral dysfunction of vascular origin, rapid in onset, variable in duration, commonly lasting from two to fifteen minutes but by definition no longer than 24 hours. They are often premonitory symptoms of an impending stroke.

TIAs come on quickly, usually going from no symptoms to maximum symptoms in less than 5 minutes. TIAs can originate in either the carotid or vertebrobasilar distribution.

Symptoms

Fig - TIA

Symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of stroke, except for the fact that they disappear in less than 24 hours. These symptoms may include:

  • Dizziness or confusion.
  • Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
  • Sudden, severe numbness in any part of the body.
  • Visual disturbance, including sudden loss of vision.
  • Difficulty walking, including staggering or veering.
  • Coordination problems in the arms and hands.
  • Slurred speech or inability to speak.

Neuro Diagnostic Tests

Your physician will ask about your current symptoms and your past medical history, including conditions that increase your risk of stroke, like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and certain types of heart disease. The physician will also examine you and will do a test called an electrocardiogram (EKG). While examining you, your physician may pay special attention to the circulation in your neck, where major arteries supplying the brain are located. In examining your neck, he or she will listen with a stethoscope for the turbulent sounds of blood flow through narrowed arteries. Blood tests also will be done.

Fig - MRI Scan

To help pinpoint the cause of TIA, your physician may order the following tests:

  • Computed Tomography (CT scan)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

To evaluate flow through blood vessels, your physician may do other tests, including:

  • Doppler Ultrasound
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
  • Cerebral angiography
  • Echocardiogram

If your physician suspects that floating blood clots are coming from your heart, special heart tests may be necessary.

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