Transient Ischemic Attack (Mini Stroke)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is also called a mini stroke. It is a temporary but serious condition that puts you at an increased risk for a major stroke, which can result in life-changing and permanent consequences.

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Neuroscience Institute provides a robust and coordinated stroke care system across multiple locations in western Pennsylvania. Our experienced neurologists and neurosurgeons diagnose and treat TIA with evidence-based treatments to provide the care you need, at the moment you need it. We work with you to help you recover and to prevent future strokes.

What is a transient ischemic attack?

A transient ischemic attack happens when the brain doesn’t get enough blood for a short period. The blood flow is restored on its own, so symptoms also tend to go away quickly. However, if you’ve had a TIA, you are at greater risk for a major stroke.

Symptoms of a transient ischemic attack (mini stroke)

In both a TIA and a stroke, a blood vessel blockage prevents blood and oxygen from reaching your brain. Unlike a major stroke, however, a TIA only blocks blood flow for a short time.

Someone with a TIA may experience sudden but short-lived symptoms:

  • Loss of (or abnormal) sensations in an arm, leg, or on one side of the body
  • Weakness or paralysis of an arm or leg or on one side of the body
  • Partial loss of vision or hearing or double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems thinking of or saying the right word
  • Imbalance and falling
  • Dizziness or fainting

Diagnosing stroke

To diagnose a mini stroke, physicians will first do a physical examination. Depending on your symptoms, doctors may use:

  • Advanced imaging, such as CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain to look for evidence of narrowed or blocked arteries and potential stroke
  • Echocardiography, imaging of the heart that can identify causes of stroke
  • Heart monitoring, which looks for heart rhythm disturbances that can cause stroke, such as atrial fibrillation
  • EKG (electrocardiography), which checks heart rhythm through electrodes placed on the skin
  • Laboratory tests, such as blood glucose testing, which may help physicians rule out other causes of your symptoms

AHN has a network of fully licensed testing facilities that are conveniently located at numerous community sites throughout western Pennsylvania.

Get expert TIA treatment at AHN

Treatment for a TIA focuses on preventing a stroke from occurring. We consider multiple factors before deciding on a treatment plan that’s appropriate for you. Learn more about AHN’s system of cerebrovascular and stroke care.

Treatments for a transient ischemic attack may include:

  • Lifestyle changes: Certain risk factors can increase your risk of stroke, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes. Eliminating or minimizing these risk factors by changing daily routines or habits may be enough to manage a condition.
  • Medication: Depending on your risk of experiencing a major stroke, your physician may recommend a blood-thinning or other medication.
  • Surgery: If the TIA was caused by the carotid arteries in your neck becoming too narrow, you may need a surgical procedure to widen them. Carotid artery stenting opens up the arteries, preventing blood clots that can block blood flow to your brain. The neurosurgeons and neuro-interventionalists at AHN use the latest treatment techniques to effectively treat TIA and stroke.

Contact us

To schedule an appointment or learn more about AHN neuroscience services, call (412) 359-8850.

If you're an existing patient, you can also call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 in Pittsburgh or request an appointment with AHN neuroscience services.