You are in: Home > Stroke information and support > Strokes and TIA > What is a stroke or TIA?

What is a stroke or TIA?

Download this video (.mp4) [75Mb, ZIP]

What is a stroke?


A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted. As a result brain cells get less of the oxygen and nutrients that they need. Some brain cells can become damaged and others can die.

There are two types of stroke:

  • Ischaemic stroke – this type of stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks one of the arteries which carries blood to the brain. About 85 in every 100 strokes are ischaemic.
  • Haemorrhagic stroke – this type of stroke occurs as a result of bleeding within or around the brain from a burst blood vessel. Approximately 15 in every 100 strokes are haemorrhagic.

What is a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)?

A transient ischaemic attack is similar to a stroke, but the symptoms don’t last as long. A TIA can last for anything from minutes to hours, but symptoms do not last longer than 24 hours.

You should never ignore the symptoms of a TIA. They might be warning signs of a stroke, which could be avoidable with treatment. Even if symptoms are mild and pass quickly you should seek medical advice.