Mini Strokes And What To Look Out For

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 May 2022

Table of Contents:

  1. Transient ischaemic Attack
  2. Causes
  3. TIA vs Stroke
  4. Risk Factors

Transient Ischaemic Attack


Your blood transports oxygen to every component of your body from head to toe. It is needed for the survival of your cells. If your blood flow is obstructed in any way, it can cause serious conditions. A problem known as a transient ischaemic attack, or TIA for short, is one of the more serious side effects.


When you have a TIA, the blood supply to a part of your brain is temporarily interrupted. It's also recognized as a ministroke, but don't be fooled by the “mini" part. A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) may signal the onset of a full-blown stroke. About 1 in 3 of all who experienced a TIA would proceed to having a stroke within a year.

Although TIAs are brief and may not have long-term consequences, they should be treated as an emergency and treated as soon as possible.


Typically, a blood clot is lodged in an artery that delivers blood to the brain, which causes TIAs. Your brain would be deprived of oxygen if blood supply is disrupted, and it will be unable to function normally.


As a result, you may experience symptoms such as muscle weakness or slurred speech. It would be like operating a car with a clogged fuel line. If your engine isn't getting petrol, it won't start.


When a fatty, waxy material known as plaque accumulates in the arteries, it causes clots. They can take form in any part of the body and float about before they get stuck somewhere. A TIA will occur if that “somewhere" happens to be an artery leading to the brain.


A TIA may also occur as plaque builds up in an artery to the point that it greatly severely restricts blood supply to the brain, similar to a clot.

TIA vs Stroke

TIAs are very similar to ischaemic strokes, which are also the result of blood clots.


The biggest distinction is that a TIA lasts only a few minutes. The clot is either pushed along like a temporary clog in a pipe, or that it is quickly broken down by chemicals in your body. Before any long-term issues arise, normal blood supply returns to the brain. Symptoms can linger up to 24 hours, but they normally disappear within an hour.


Strokes, however, do not resolve so quickly. This implies that some part of the brain is deprived of oxygen, and the more this continues on, the more harm occurs. Although a TIA comes on, goes away, and leaves no symptoms, a stroke may be life-threatening and have long-term consequences.

Risk Factors

The same things that raise your odds of a stroke also affect your risk of a TIA, and there are a lot of issues in play.


Risks you can't control

Some things are beyond your control, but being mindful of them is beneficial:


  • Age. The chances of having a TIA or stroke increases when you're over 55.
  • Family history. You are more prone to get a TIA if one of your grandparents, parents, or a brother or sister has experienced a stroke.
  • Previous TIA. You're far more apt to have another after you've previously had one.
  • Race. African-Americans, as well as people from the South Asian and Caribbean ethnic groups, have a higher chance of a TIA than others.
  • Gender. Women have a greater risk of strokes and TIAs compared to men.


Health conditions

Other medical issues you might have can also raise the chances of having a TIA, this includes:


  • Being overweight
  • Carotid artery disease, where the major arteries from your heart to your brain are narrowed or clogged
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease, inclusive of heart defects and rhythm problems like atrial fibrillation (AF)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD), where arteries in your arms or legs get blocked
  • Sickle cell disease, a genetic condition that makes it easier for misshapen blood cells to get stuck in arteries.


Some of the choices you make on a daily basis may affect the risk of having a TIA. You may be at a greater risk if you:


  • Drink large amounts of alcohol
  • Don't get enough exercise
  • Eat large portions of food with excessive cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats, and inadequate amount of fruits, veggies, and fiber
  • Smoke
  • Use drugs such as amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin


Risks for women. Risks of having TIA may be heightened among women who:


  • Are pregnant, since pregnancy can raise your blood pressure and make your heart function at increased capacities
  • Get migraines with auras
  • Take birth control pills, especially if you are a smoker or have high blood pressure
  • Use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for treatment of menopause symptoms


Referenced on  10.4.2021

  1. Mayo Clinic: “Transient ischaemic Attack (TIA)."
  2. American Heart Association/American Stroke Association: “Transient ischaemic Attack (TIA)," “Stroke Risks."
  3. NHS: “Transient ischaemic Attack (TIA)."
  4. Cleveland Clinic: “Transient ischaemic Attack (TIA)."
  5. National Stroke Association: “What Is TIA?" “Women and Stroke."

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