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Mini-strokes

What is a "Mini-Stroke"?

A "mini-stroke" is the more common term used to describe a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). Transient means something that comes and goes. Ischemia describes what happens when a blood vessel becomes blocked. When the blockage or the cognitive deficits last for less than 24 hours, this is called a TIA or mini-stroke.

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke. Even if the symptoms clear quickly, it is important that you see a doctor if you think you've had a TIA. Without treatment, one third of all people who have a TIA go on to have a stroke within five years. A TIA is a warning that there is something seriously wrong with how blood is flowing to the brain.

How is it Caused?

A TIA is usually caused by:

  • blood clots or pieces of blood clots that block the blood vessel
  • plaque or pieces of plaque that block the blood vessel.

How is it Treated?

Treatment for a TIA can include:

  • drugs to prevent blood clots
  • lowering blood pressure, blood cholesterol and/or, blood sugar levels
  • lifestyle changes such as adopting a lower fat diet and starting regular to moderate physical activity
  • surgery (to remove plaque deposits or blood clots).

Because a TIA can lead to a stroke, many of the risk factors for a stroke are the same. There are many stroke risk factors that you can control. Read about stroke prevention.

Prepared by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and modified by Alberta Health Services.