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A Mini Stroke May be a Warning Sign

Symptoms of a stroke that only last a few minutes and result in no noticeable permanent damage may seem harmless, but they may actually be warning signs of a future stroke. 


“People who experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is often referred to as a mini stroke, need to take the warning seriously,” says Paul Kaiser, MD, a member of the Penn Medicine Princeton Health Medical Staff. “A significant number of people who experience a TIA may eventually have a stroke, some may even have one within the first few days to a week after a TIA.”

Seeking prompt emergency medical attention is extremely important if you experience symptoms of a TIA or stroke, says Dr. Kaiser, who is board certified in neurology, vascular neurology and clinical neurophysiology. 

The causes of both a TIA and a stroke are the same — the blood supply to part of the brain is blocked — often the result of a buildup of cholesterol-containing fatty deposits called plaques in an artery. With a TIA, the blockage is brief, resulting in short-term symptoms and, as a result, less likelihood of damage. Still, proper medical evaluation is needed to determine whether you have had a TIA, a stroke or another medical episode and whether treatment is needed. 

Watch for These Symptoms of a Mini Stroke

 Symptoms of a TIA may include sudden onset of:

  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, usually on one side
  • Slurred or garbled speech
  • Difficulty comprehending language
  • Double vision or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Severe headache

Know the Risks

While anyone can experience a TIA, those at the highest risk have a family history of TIAs and stroke; are over the age of 55; have previously had a TIA; smoke cigarettes; or have a condition such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, or a heart or blood vessel disorder.  

“Properly managing any health conditions, maintaining a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle by not smoking and limiting alcohol are extremely important in reducing your risk for a TIA or stroke,” says Dr. Kaiser.  

To find a physician affiliated with Princeton Health, call 1.888.742.7496, or

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