Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Discharge Information

What is transient ischemic attack (TIA)?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a brief loss in brain function. It happens when the brain does not get enough blood because a blood vessel is blocked for a short time. The blockage may be caused by a sudden narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain, a clot that travels from another part of the body to the brain or neck, or a spasm of an artery leading to the brain.

Symptoms of TIA and stroke are the same, except TIA symptoms usually go away in a few minutes, and always within 24 hours. A TIA is different from a stroke because it does not cause any lasting damage to the brain.

If you have had a TIA, you have a high risk of having a stroke. Do not ignore symptoms of a TIA or stroke. Get emergency medical care to help prevent a stroke.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the cause of your TIA, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.


  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicines to:
    • Prevent blood clots
    • Control cholesterol levels
    • Treat other conditions that may have helped cause the TIA, such as high blood pressure or diabetes


  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for all routine testing you may need.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • You will probably need to make changes in some of the foods you eat. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn what you need in a healthy diet.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
  • Lose weight if you need to and keep a healthy weight.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can worsen poor blood circulation.
  • If you have diabetes, check and control your blood sugar.
  • Find ways to make your life less stressful.

Call emergency medical services or 911:

The acronym FAST describes stroke symptoms and needed action. The symptoms come on FAST and may include:

  • Face/Head:
    • Weakness, numbness, drooping, tingling of face (may just be on one side)
    • Trouble seeing (one or both eyes)
    • Severe headache
    • Trouble thinking
    • Trouble swallowing
    • Feeling dizzy along with one or more of the symptoms listed above
  • Arm/Leg:
    • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in your arm, or leg (usually on just one side of your body)
    • Trouble walking, moving your arm or leg
  • Speech: Trouble talking or understanding speech
  • Time: Call 911 for emergency help right away if you have symptoms of a stroke.

You should also call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Seizure or convulsion

If you have any of these symptoms, do not drive yourself.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Confusion
  • Personality changes
  • Dizziness
  • Headache that will not go away after treatment
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-30
Last reviewed: 2014-04-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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