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What is a TIA or mini-stroke?

Some strokes are very sudden but there can be warning signs. Usually these warnings are in the form of a mini stroke or Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA).

Transient: Symptoms disappear in less than 24 hours
Ischaemic: Failure of blood flow to part of the brain  
Attack: Sudden onset of symptoms

TIA symptoms are very similar to those of a stroke but by definition last for less than 24 hours (symptoms lasting longer than 24 hours are called a stroke).

Common symptoms include:

--numbness, tingling, paralysis of face, arm or leg especially on one side of the body
--sudden blurred or limited vision in one or both eyes
--sudden difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying
--sudden dizziness, loss of balance, difficulty with movements
--sudden intense headache, often on one side or down the neck
--brief spell of fainting
--confusion or convulsions.

This is caused by the blood supply to the brain being temporarily disrupted. A TIA is a powerful warning something is wrong in the circulatory system, so although there could be other causes for these symptoms if you experience them it is important that you see a doctor immediately.

It is important to find and treat the cause of a TIA, to help avoid a more serious stroke in the future. A person who has had a TIA has a greater risk of suffering a stroke. The risk of having a stroke in the first year after a TIA is about 10 per cent but then falls by about 5 per cent each year.

A doctor who thinks you have had a TIA may prescribe a small daily dose of aspirin. Research shows this can help reduce the risk of stroke.

See your doctor immediately if you have temporary trouble with any of these:

-- a passing weakness, paralysis, loss of feeling, or clumsiness on one side of your face, a limb or your body
---a violent spinning sensation.

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