Doctor discussing CT scan results with patient

What is the difference between a TIA and a stroke?

You may have a loved one who suffered from a transient ischemic attack (TIA). This is commonly called a “mini-stroke.”

“Really, a TIA is a stroke that almost happened,” said John Pilch, MD, medical director of Pelham Medical Center’s Primary Stroke Center. “It is a warning of a stroke.”

A stroke is when blood flow to the brain is cut off. This can either be due to a blood clot blocking the flow—which is called an ischemic stroke—or when a blood vessel bursts and stops the flow—which is called a hemorrhagic stroke.

A TIA is when that blood flow stops for a short period of time, which causing stroke symptoms.

What should I do if I have had a TIA?

“A TIA should be taken just as seriously as a stroke. You shouldn’t treat it any differently than a stroke,” Dr. Pilch said. “If you or a loved one has experienced any stroke symptoms, call an ambulance immediately, even if you feel it may be just a TIA.”

It’s important to go to the hospital after a TIA, because more TIAs or a full stroke could occur later.