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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What Is It?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an episode of stroke-like symptoms. It usually lasts less than one hour. A TIA is sometimes called a ministroke.

During a TIA, circulation to a part of the brain is interrupted briefly, then restored. This interruption can be caused by:

  • A narrowing of a brain artery because of atherosclerosis.

  • A small floating blood clot. This clot enters the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body, often the heart. It temporarily blocks a brain artery.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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