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What is a TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack)?

A transient ischaemic attack (or TIA) is the same as a stroke, but the symptoms only last for a short amount of time (less than 24 hours).

Symptoms are caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain.

Although the symptoms do not last long, a TIA should still be taken seriously. It is a sign that something is not right, and that you are at risk of having a stroke.

What are the symptoms of a TIA?

The FAST test can help you recognise the common signs of a stroke or TIA:

FAST test

The FAST test can help you recognise the symptoms of a stroke or TIA

These may be accompanied by less specific symptoms such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Problems with balance or co-ordination

In the early stages it is not possible to tell whether you are having a stroke or a TIA. Therefore if you think that you or someone else may be having a stroke or TIA, call 999.

Never ignore the symptoms of a TIA

Even if symptoms are mild and pass quickly, it is important to seek medical advice. If you think you have had a TIA but you didn't seek medical advice at the time, see your GP urgently.

Never ignore the symptoms of a TIA. A TIA is a warning that you are at risk of having a stroke in the near future. The highest risk is in the days and weeks after the TIA.

More than 1 in 12 people will have a stroke within a week of having a TIA.

To find out more about TIAs, including how they are diagnosed and treated, and what you can do to reduce your risk of having a stroke see the CHSS booklet Understanding transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke.