Transient Ischemic Attack

(TIA; Mini-Stroke)

Definition

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary dysfunction of the brain due to a shortage of blood and oxygen. A TIA lasts no longer than 24 hours. It is sometimes referred to as a mini-stroke. TIA is a serious condition. It serves as a warning for a potential stroke .
Blood Supply to the Brain
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Causes

Blood and oxygen are carried to the brain through major blood vessels in the neck. The blood then passes through a series of blood vessels in the brain. A TIA occurs when the blood flow through the neck or brain vessels is reduced. The blood flow may be reduced by a narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels.Narrowing of the blood vessels may occur with:
  • Build up of plaque in the blood vessels, called atherosclerosis
  • Vasculitis—inflammation of the blood vessels
Blood vessels can also become blocked or obstructed by a clot or clump that is floating in the blood. This may be caused by:
  • A piece of blood clot or plaque that has broken off of another location
  • Blood and blood-clotting disorders such as:
    • Severe anemia —too few red blood cells
    • Polycythemia —too many red blood cells
    • Hyperviscosity—abnormal thickening of the blood
  • Endocarditis —an infection of the lining of the heart

Risk Factors

Certain chronic medical conditions can affect the health of your blood vessels. These conditions may increase your chances of TIA:TIAs are more common in men than women in younger age groups. They are also more common in people age 45 years or older, with the highest risk between ages 60-80 years. Other factors that increase your chance for TIA include:

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