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TIA patient handbook

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What is a TIA?


TIA stands for ‘Transient Ischaemic Attack’.

A TIA is the sudden onset of stroke-like symptoms that resolves within 24 hours (but most commonly within thirty minutes). It usually occurs due to a temporary blockage in the blood supply to the brain.

If your symptoms have lasted longer than 24 hours it is likely you have had a small stroke, rather than a TIA.

Symptoms are variable and depend on which part of the brain is affected.

Examples of symptoms include:

  • Speech disturbance (slurred and/or difficulty finding words)
  • Visual disturbance
  • Weakness of face, arm or leg
  • Altered sensation of face, arm or leg
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty swallowing.

    Why are TIAs important?


    TIAs are important as we know that patients who have had a TIA are at risk of developing strokes.

    You have been seen in TIA clinic today and have been diagnosed with a possible/probable/definite TIA.

    The aim of seeing you in TIA clinic is to investigate the underlying cause of your TIA and to use this opportunity to manage your individual risk factors for TIAs and stroke. By doing this we can
    significantly reduce your chance of developing further TIAs and/or a stroke


      What investigations have I had today?


      • Blood pressure – so that your GP can adjust your medication to control this.
      • ECG – to look for an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) which is a risk factor for a stroke/TIA.
      • Blood tests – to look for underlying risk factors of your TIA.
      • Chest x-ray – to look at your heart and lungs to see if there is anything contributing to your TIA/stroke.
      • Carotid doppler – to look for narrowing of the blood vessels that supply your brain. If there is significant narrowing you may be considered for an operation to reduce this. This test is not suitable for all TIAs.
      • CT scan – to see whether there is any permanent change to your brain and to exclude bleeding. This is not required for all TIAs.
      • MRI scan – to see in detail whether there is any permanent damage to your brain and the location of this or whether there is any other cause for your symptoms. This is not required for all TIAs.

        What medications have you been prescribed?


        • Blood pressure – so that your GP can adjust your medication to control this.
        • ECG – to look for an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) which is a risk factor for a stroke/TIA.
        • Blood tests – to look for underlying risk factors of your TIA.
        • Chest x-ray – to look at your heart and lungs to see if there is anything contributing to your TIA/stroke.
        • Carotid doppler – to look for narrowing of the blood vessels that supply your brain. If there is significant narrowing you may be considered for an operation to reduce this. This test is not suitable for all TIAs.
        • CT scan – to see whether there is any permanent change to your brain and to exclude bleeding. This is not required for all TIAs.
        • MRI scan – to see in detail whether there is any permanent damage to your brain and the location of this or whether there is any other cause for your symptoms. This is not required for all TIAs.

          Image and Text


          TIA stands for ‘Transient Ischaemic Attack’.

          A TIA is the sudden onset of stroke-like symptoms that resolves within 24 hours (but most commonly within thirty minutes). It usually occurs due to a temporary blockage in the blood supply to the brain.

          If your symptoms have lasted longer than 24 hours it is likely you have had a small stroke, rather than a TIA.

          Symptoms are variable and depend on which part of the brain is affected.

          Examples of symptoms include:

          • Speech disturbance (slurred and/or difficulty finding words)
          • Visual disturbance
          • Weakness of face, arm or leg
          • Altered sensation of face, arm or leg
          • Clumsiness
          • Difficulty swallowing.

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            General advice


            Do

            • Rest completely at home for at least 24 hours; have a responsible adult with you during this time.
            • Take painkillers suggested by your doctor, if needed.
            • Take your usual medication but do not take sedatives or tranquilisers.

            Do not

            • Drive or operate machinery.
            • Do any strenuous activities until you feel fully recovered.
            • Drink alcohol or take recreational drugs.
            • Take a bath (a shower is safer) for at least 24 hours.
            • Play contact sports for example football, rugby or horse riding till your symptoms have completely settled and you have been seen by your general practitioner.
            • Return to sport or an occupation that involves balance or heights, such as, gymnastics or window cleaning until you feel fully recovered and you have been cleared by your general practitioner.

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            Emergency Department


            Royal Sussex County Hospital

            Level 5, Thomas Kemp Tower

            Eastern Road

            Brighton BN2 5BE

            Tel: 01273 696955 extn. 64261

            Princess Royal Hospital

            Lewes Road

            Haywards Heath RH16 4EX

            Tel: 01444 448745

            Review Date: June 2023

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