Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ‘mini–stroke’ is a set of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. It can last from a few minutes to a few hours, but the symptoms disappear within 24 hours.

In a TIA, a blood vessel in the brain is temporarily blocked by a clot, but the body breaks down the clot before any lasting damage is done to the brain.

But a clot is a clot. It may be temporary, but it should not be ignored because it is a serious warning that something is wrong with the blood flow to your brain and a full stroke could happen in the future.

If you have a mini stroke (TIA), you have an increased chance of having a full stroke. 1 in 10 people who have a mini stroke have a full stroke within a week.

The symptoms of a mini stroke/TIA are the same as the symptoms of a full stroke, though they disappear within 24 hours. As the symptoms don’t last, it is common for the person experiencing them to dismiss them and think nothing of them.

Other symptoms of a mini stroke may include:

  • Blurred or reduced vision
  • Difficulty understanding
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

If you experience the symptoms of a stroke or mini stroke (TIA), seek urgent medical help. When you are having the symptoms, it is impossible to know if you are having a mini stroke or a full stroke. Don’t wait to see if they go away, call 999 immediately.

Sometimes people don’t recognise the signs of a TIA at the time, and only realise later on that something wasn’t quite right. If you experienced symptoms recently but didn’t see a doctor, you should make an urgent appointment to see your GP. Your GP will also be able to refer you to a TIA clinic.

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