How to recognize and respond to a "warning" stroke
A transient ischemic attack means you're at risk for a full-blown stroke. Seek emergency care, even if your symptoms are short-lived.
- Reviewed by Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
A temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), can cause a range of unsettling symptoms, including slurred speech or arm weakness. The symptoms appear suddenly but usually last less than five minutes, which is why TIAs are often ignored or missed.
Although TIAs are often referred to as "ministrokes," the term "warning stroke" is actually more accurate. A TIA can be a harbinger of a future stroke, which has similar symptoms (see "Spot a stroke") but can leave you permanently disabled.
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About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
About the Reviewer
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
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