What is a transient ischaemic attack?
A transient ischaemic attack is a condition in which there is a temporary disruption to the blood and oxygen supply to part of the brain.
It is similar to a stroke but doesn’t last as long, with the effects usually lasting a few minutes to a few hours and fully resolved within a day.
What causes transient ischaemic attacks?
A transient ischaemic attack is caused by a blockage of one of the blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygen-rich blood.
This is normally a result of a blood clot that has travelled to the brain from elsewhere in the body through the bloodstream, but it can also be due to pieces of fatty material or air bubbles.
Certain factors increase the likelihood of a person having a transient ischaemic attack:
- Age. People over 55 years of age are at higher risk.
- Medical conditions. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, a type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, diabetes and obesity.
- Lifestyle. Smoking and regularly drinking an excessive amount of alcohol.
What are the symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack?
The word FAST can be used to help you to remember the main symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack.
F- Face. The whole face or just the mouth and/or an eye may droop on one side and the person may be unable to smile.
A – Arms. Weakness or numbness in one arm resulting in the person being unable to hold their arm up and keep it there.
S – Speech. Their speech may be slurred or they may not be able to talk at all, or they may have difficulty understanding others.
T – Time. If someone is showing any symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack 999 should be called immediately.