Transient Ischemic Attacks

What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?

The most common cause of temporary vision loss is known as a transient ischemic attack. It is more commonly known as a TIA, or a “mini-stroke,” and tends to occur most often in seniors. A TIA may only last a matter of minutes but it should not be ignored since roughly fifteen per cent of patients who survive their first TIA or mini-stroke will suffer another one within one year.

What are the risk factors for TIA?

The risk factors of transient ischemic attacks are as follows: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, IV drug use, cocaine use, excessive alcohol, use of oral contraceptives, and lack of exercise causing obesity.

What are the symptoms of TIA?

A TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may occur. A TIA is caused by a reduction in blood flow to the brain or eyes for a short period of time due to a small blood clot. Symptoms of a TIA may include one or more of the following: painless loss of vision of one or both eyes, weakness and tingling on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, or vertigo (dizziness). When the blood flow returns, usually in a matter of minutes, the symptoms go away. Rarely does a TIA last for more than 24 hours. With a stroke the blood flow does not return causing permanent damage.

What are the treatments for TIA?

Patients suffering from a transient ischemic attack need to see a physician as soon as possible. The physician may order a list of tests including blood pressure, a full blood work-up, CT scan, MRI, Doppler ultrasound, or an echocardiogram. If a loss of vision is experienced, an examination [Link to The Eye Exam page] by your Doctor of Optometry is important to rule out any other possible causes of vision loss. Initial treatment of a transient ischemic attack usually involves taking prescribed blood thinners. The long-term treatment of a TIA depends on the cause of the attack.