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Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a sudden or temporary loss of blood flow to an area of the brain, usually lasting a few minutes to one hour. A TIA is not a stroke, but it may be a warning sign that a stroke is about to occur. Symptoms of a TIA and stroke are often similar.

Always call 911 for medical help immediately if you suspect a person is having a TIA or a stroke.

A TIA may be related to severe narrowing or blockage or from small pieces of an atherosclerotic plaque breaking off, traveling through the bloodstream, and lodging in small blood vessels in the brain. With TIAs, there is rarely permanent brain damage. Symptoms usually go away entirely within 24 hours, with complete recovery.


Symptoms of a TIA may include:

  • Sudden weakness or clumsiness of an arm and/or leg on one side of the body
  • Sudden paralysis (inability to move) of an arm and/or leg on one side of the body
  • Loss of coordination or movement
  • Confusion, dizziness, fainting, and/or headache
  • Numbness or loss of sensation (feeling) in the face
  • Numbness or loss of sensation in an arm and/or leg
  • Temporary loss of vision or blurred vision
  • Inability to speak clearly or slurred speech

The Inova Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease Program specializes in treatment for stroke and other vascular conditions. Learn more by calling 703-776-4700.