Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout
About Your Diagnosis
Transient ischemic attacks, by definition, are focal neurologic abnormalies of sudden onset and brief duration (less than 24 hours). Most TIAs last less than 10 minutes and may be caused by a temporary interruption or reduction of blood flow to a specific part of the brain. The symptoms depend upon the part of the arterial blood system to the brain that is affected. Consciousness remains intact throughout the episode. Transient ischemic attacks are often caused by a plaque or blood clot in the artery that blocks blood flow. The body naturally breaks down these plaques, restoring blood flow and allowing the symptoms to resolve. Transient ischemic attacks are most common in the middle-aged and elderly but, although rare, may occur in young individuals with heart disease. The attacks are usually recurrent and may forecast an impending stroke.

Living With Your Diagnosis
The following are some of the more common symptoms of a TIA:
• Weakness or numbness on one side of the face or body (face, arm, leg).
• Changes in vision.
• Confusion.
• Dizziness.
• Binocular blindness.
• Double vision.
• Slurred speech, inability to talk, or difficulty swallowing.
• Loss of coordination or balance.
In 70% of cases, the symptoms of a TIA will resolve in less than 10 minutes, and in 90% they will resolve in less than 4 hours. A TIA is a warning sign that you are at risk for a stroke.

In addition to treating the underlying conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco abuse, sedentary lifestyle, and high cholesterol level), the treatment of TIAs is aimed at preventing strokes. For most patients this will involve medications to prevent blood clot formation in the heart or arteries supplying the brain. Often this is as simple as taking a small amount of aspirin each day. However, if the symptoms are severe or frequent, a more potent “blood thinner” may be needed. Some TIAs are caused by plaques or clots in the large arteries of the neck. An ultrasound study of the arteries in your neck may be necessary to determine the probable cause of your symptoms, and whether surgery is necessary.

The DOs
• Take note of the conditions and symptoms when you have a TIA.
What kind of activity were you doing when it occurred?
Exactly what symptoms did you have?
How long did your symptoms last?
When did they occur?
• Take only the medications prescribed by your doctor. Some of these medications may require you to get blood tests on a regular basis.
• If you have other medical problems, such as diabetes, a high cholesterol level, or high blood pressure, be sure that your physician is aware of those problems and that they are being managed as well.
•Keep your follow-up appointments with your doctor.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t use tobacco products because they promote and accelerate the development of vascular disease and will increase your risk of stroke.
• Don’t eat a high-fat diet.
• Avoid driving or doing any activity in which a sudden onset of the symptoms described above could put you or others in danger.
•Don’t delay in reporting recurrent symptoms to your doctor.
•Avoid strenuous activities and exertion.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If you have another TIA after beginning medication.
• If you have an unusually severe headache.
• If you have any problems associated with your medication.