What is a mini-stroke?

You may have heard people refer to a mini-stroke or TIA but do you know what it is? A TIA is a transient ischaemic attack and is often referred to as a mini-stroke.

A mini-stroke happens when a temporary blockage cuts off the blood supply to part of your brain. The blockage will dissolve on its own or move to let the blood supply return to normal with a mini-stroke.

Is a TIA the same as a stroke?

Yes, essentially it is the same except that the symptoms last for a very short time period.

A TIA is still very serious. It can be a sign that there is a problem and you may be at risk of having a stroke. Sometimes a mini-stroke is called a warning stroke.

What are the symptoms of a mini-stroke?

A mini-stroke or TIA has the same symptoms as a stroke but they do not last as long. The FAST test helps to recognise the common signs:

  • Face: Can the person smile and has their face fallen on one side?
  • Arms: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?
  • Time: If any of those three signs are visible you need to call 999.

Whether it is a stroke or a mini-stroke/ TIA, it is a medical emergency! The quicker the person gets to a specialist stroke unit the quicker they will receive the appropriate treatment.

How is a Mini-stroke/ TIA diagnosed?

You will be asked about the symptoms you had and how long they lasted. If the doctor thinks you have had a mini-stroke he will refer you to someone who specialises in stroke for assessment and treatment.

How is a mini stroke/ TIA treated?

Your specialist will want to take your blood pressure and carry out blood tests. They may also want you to have a brain scan to rule out anything else that might have caused the symptoms.

The specialist will also test for other conditions that could have caused the mini-stroke such as high cholesterol or diabetes.  Once all of the tests have been completed they will discuss what you need to do to reduce the risk of having another mini-stroke/ TIA or stroke.

You may be asked to make changes to your lifestyle such as giving up smoking or taking more exercise.

Any person who has had a mini-stroke is at a higher risk of stroke. It is essential that it is treated urgently.

The above information has been sourced from:


As private medical insurance does not cover emergencies, you should use the NHS if you suspect a mini-stroke or stroke by dialing 999.