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TIA and Stroke

Although they are similar, a stroke and a TIA, or transient ischemic attack, are not the same. A stroke causes symptoms that last for at least 24 hours, while the symptoms caused by a TIA usually improve within 30 minutes. While a TIA is not as severe as a stroke, people who experience a TIA may be at a greater risk to have a stroke.

TIA and Stroke: Are They the Same?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA for short) and stroke are very similar. In fact, a TIA is also known as a transient stroke, or "mini-stroke." The difference between a TIA and stroke comes down to timing. By definition, a stroke produces symptoms that last for at least 24 hours. A TIA produces symptoms that improve after a shorter period of time (usually within 30 minutes).
There are two important things to keep in mind when considering strokes and TIAs. Because there is no way to tell whether symptoms are the result of a TIA or a stroke, you should assume that all stroke-like symptoms signal an emergency -- do not wait to see if they go away. Second, it is important to recognize a TIA because one-third of people with TIAs will go on to have a stroke within five years. This risk is significantly decreased with treatment.

TIA Versus Stroke Symptoms

Both a stroke and a TIA occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted. This means that the symptoms are similar. Therefore, similar to a stroke, TIA symptoms can include a sudden onset of:
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Confusion or difficulty in talking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.
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