The short-lived symptoms can lead to serious complications and shouldn’t be ignored

By Rachel Nania,

Excerpted From AARP Health | January 27, 2023

A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, happens when blood flow to the brain is temporarily blocked. Roughly 240,000 Americans a year have a TIA, sometimes called a ministroke, according to the American Stroke Association. And though they can occur at any age, they’re most common among adults 55 and older.

Knowing when to seek help


Major risk factors for TIA include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Smoking

Source: American Stroke Association

It’s not uncommon for symptoms to be brushed aside, says Hardik P. Amin, M.D., associate professor of neurology and medical stroke director at Yale New Haven Hospital St. Raphael Campus in Connecticut. A big reason: When it comes to a TIA, there’s no pain involved.

“Usually if there’s a pain component, that’s going to send folks running to the hospital,” Amin says. “Here, it’s more like a loss of ability to do something.” And that loss of ability quickly resolves, often within a few minutes.

A short-lived weakness or numbness in the arm? “Sometimes patients just think, Oh, I just slept on it funny. I’ll try to shake it off or just kind of work through it and see if it just gets better on its own,” Amin says.

Doctors, however, say it’s important not to overlook TIA symptoms. In fact, they require immediate medical attention, a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) says. Diagnosing a TIA and understanding its root cause can help prevent a full-blown stroke, which can cause lasting brain damage and long-term disability — even death.

“TIAs can be a harbinger of something really bad,” says Arif Jivan, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital. “It can be a warning sign for a more significant stroke in the future.” About one-third of people who have a TIA go on to have a stroke within a year.

What are the signs of a TIA?

The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those for a stroke, doctors say, only they are temporary and can sometimes resolve as quickly as they come on.

Amin points to the acronym FAST to recognize the warning signs of both TIA and stroke. The first three letters stand for: Face drooping (typically on one side), arm weakness or numbness (again, this is usually on one side of the body) and speech difficulty, where an individual may struggle to string words together, may say something nonsensical or may have thick, slurred speech “where it sounds like the patient’s got marbles in their mouth,” Amin says.

The final letter stands for time to call 9-1-1, and the same holds true when it comes to TIA, even if the symptoms stop before you get to the phone.


Common warning signs include sudden onset of:

  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis on one side of your body
  • Slurred speech or difficulty understanding others
  • Blindness in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headache with no apparent cause

Source: American Stroke Association

It’s imperative that we don’t ignore those symptoms and seek medical attention very quickly. Even though they’re transient and they’re short lived, [TIAs] are associated with long-term, worse outcomes.


Michelle (949) 397- 4506

Melvyn (949) 500-3630

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility. Skip to content