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What Is a TIA?

A TIA (transient ischemic attack) is an early warning that a stroke (also called a brain attack) is coming. A TIA is a temporary stroke. It causes no lasting damage. But the effects of a stroke, if it happens, can be very serious and lasting. If you think you are having symptoms of a TIA or stroke—even if they don’t last—get medical help right away.

Woman talking on phone.

Symptoms of TIA and stroke

Symptoms may come on suddenly and last for a few seconds or a few hours. You may have symptoms only once. Or they may come and go for days. If you notice any of the following symptoms, don’t wait. Call 911 or emergency services right away.

  • Weakness, numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling in your face, arm, or leg

  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes; double vision

  • Slurred speech, trouble talking, or problems understanding others when they speak

  • Sudden, severe headache

  • Dizziness or a feeling of spinning

  • Loss of balance or falling

  • Blackouts

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke. When you see the signs, you will know what you need to call 911 fast. 

F.A.S.T. stands for: 

  • F is for face drooping. One side of the face is drooping or numb. When the person smiles, the smile is uneven.

  • is for arm weakness. One arm is weak or numb. When the person lifts both arms and the same time, one arm may drift downward.

  • is for speech difficulty. You may notice slurred speech or trouble speaking. The person can't repeat a simple sentence correctly when asked.

  • is for time to call 911. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 right away. Make note of the time the symptoms first appeared.

Online Medical Reviewer: Sudheendra, Deepak, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2017
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