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Identifying a Transient Ischemic Attack

Symptoms of a Transient Ischemic Attack

Transient ischemic attack symptoms, which usually occur suddenly, are similar to those of stroke but do not last as long. Most symptoms of a transient ischemic attack disappear within an hour, although they may persist for up to 24 hours.
Transient ischemic attack symptoms can include:
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty talking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.
Less common symptoms of a transient ischemic attack include sudden nausea, vomiting, brief loss of consciousness, or decreased consciousness (such as fainting and convulsions).
If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these symptoms of TIA, do not wait for the symptoms to worsen or improve. Call 911 immediately. It is impossible for you to know whether these are transient ischemic symptoms or something more serious (such as stroke symptoms).
(Click TIA Symptoms for more information about the symptoms of transient ischemic attacks.)

Making a Diagnosis

As part of diagnosing a transient ischemic attack, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions (concerning the patient's medical history, symptoms, etc.) and perform a physical exam. If the healthcare provider believes that a person has had a transient ischemic attack, he or she may order additional tests to search for possible causes of a TIA or to rule out other conditions that can cause symptoms that mimic a TIA.
(Click TIA Diagnosis for more information on diagnosing a TIA, including details about specific diagnostic tests that doctors may recommend.)
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