What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA) and how is it defined?

Updated: Dec 03, 2018
  • Author: Ashish Nanda, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew K Chang, MD, MS  more...
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A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an acute episode of temporary neurologic dysfunction that results from focal cerebral, spinal cord, or retinal ischemia, and is not associated with acute tissue infarction. [7] The clinical symptoms of TIA typically last less than 1 hour and often last for less than 30 minutes, but prolonged episodes can occur.

Whereas the classical definition of TIA included symptoms lasting as long as 24 hours, advances in neuroimaging have suggested that many such cases represent minor strokes with resolved symptoms rather than true TIAs. Thus, in 2009 the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) endorse a tissue-based definition of TIA (ie, as an episode of focal ischemia rather than acute infarction) rather than a time-based definition. [1]

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