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Symptoms - Transient ischaemic attack (TIA)

The symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) are the same as those of a stroke, but they only last for a few minutes or hours.

The signs and symptoms usually begin suddenly.

Recognising the signs of a TIA

If you live with or care for someone in a high risk group, it's important that you know these signs. For example, an older person with atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) or someone with diabetes and high blood pressure.

It’s important to recognise the symptoms and call 112 or 999 to ask for an ambulance straight away.

The main symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face – their face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped or appear droopy on one side.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there, because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all, despite appearing to be awake. They may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
  • Time – it's time to call 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

Other symptoms

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • not able to move one side of the body
  • sudden vision loss, blurred vision or double vision
  • vertigo
  • being sick
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • problems understanding what others are saying
  • problems with balance and co-ordination
  • problems swallowing (dysphagia)

These symptoms appear suddenly, usually over a few seconds. There may be other causes for them.

Emergency action required: Call 112 or 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if:

  • you or someone else has symptoms of a TIA or stroke

Get checked out

In the early stages of a TIA, it's not possible to tell if you're having a TIA or a full stroke.

If a TIA is suspected, you may be given aspirin to take straight away. This helps to prevent a stroke.

Even if the symptoms disappear you still need to be assessed in hospital.

A TIA is a warning sign that you may be at risk of having a full stroke in the near future. Doctors will assess you and decide the best treatment to lower the chances of you getting a stroke.

Talk to your GP if you think you may have had a TIA, but the symptoms passed and you did not seek help at the time. They can decide if you need go to hospital for an assessment.

Page last reviewed: 26 July 2023
Next review due: 26 July 2026