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Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

What is a transient ischemic attack?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), often called a “mini-stroke,” occurs when blood circulation to the brain is briefly interrupted, typically because of a blocked artery or ruptured blood vessel. The signs are the same as a stroke, but they are usually only present for a few minutes. A TIA is considered a warning sign that a full stroke could occur in the future.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

At UTHealth Neurosciences, our dedicated team uses advanced technology to accurately diagnose a transient ischemic attack or stroke, to determine its cause, and to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. We work in multidisciplinary teams of specialists and therapists that share insights, leading to better treatment decision-making and outcomes, as well as lower costs and time savings. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Causes of a transient ischemic attack

The majority of TIAs and strokes are considered preventable and most of the risk factors can be managed. People who are overweight, inactive, or heavy drinkers or smokers are at a higher risk for having a stroke. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, or heart disease are at higher risk.

Signs of a transient ischemic attack 

The most noticeable symptoms of a TIA include a sudden, severe headache, vision problems, difficulty speaking, and sudden paralysis or numbness of the face, arms, or legs on one side. Coordination problems are also common. Someone who has suffered a transient ischemic attack might have confusion, memory loss, and difficulty reading or writing. Unlike a full-blown stroke, these symptoms usually disappear within about five minutes.


Once a person has suffered a TIA, their risk of a stroke increases as much as 80% so it’s important to see your doctor immediately. Your doctor can order a brain imaging test, including a CT scan or MRI, to identify whether damage was done. A Computer Tomography (CT) scan uses radiation to create a picture of the brain. It can help determine the cause, location, and extent of brain injury. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) might be used for a more detailed image. Other diagnostic tools that might be used include carotid ultrasound, cerebral angiogram, echocardiogram, or a blood flow test.


Several medications are available to help prevent a patient from suffering a future stroke. Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, such as aspirin, may be recommended to reduce the risk.

Doctors may decide to perform a procedure to reduce the risk of future strokes, such as removing plaque blocking a carotid artery. An angioplasty might also be used to insert a stent to support an opened artery.

Risk factors for future stokes should be mitigated through lifestyle and diet changes.

Cerebrovascular and Stroke Care

Contact Us

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.