Skip to main content
What is the difference between a TIA and a stroke?
Doctor and patient using digital tablet in hospital

What is the difference between a TIA and a stroke?

By Staff reports on May 1, 2024

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 causes stroke symptoms.

What should I do if I have had a TIA or experience stroke symptoms?

“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.

Providers also stress the value in memorizing this acronym to be alert and conscious of spotting stroke symptoms: BE FAST.

B - Balance: Watch for sudden loss of balance

E - Eyes: Check for vision loss

F – Face: One side of the face is drooping

A – Arm Weakness: One arm is weak, numb or paralyzed

S – Slurred Speech: Speech is slurred or there is a total loss of speech

T – Time: Call 9-1-1 immediately with any of these symptoms

Strokes can happen at any moment, so it is important to control the things that we can to lower our risks and be prepared.