TIA Underlying Cause
Transient ischemic attacks are caused by a temporary blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the brain.
The brain is very sensitive to any interruption in blood flow. Brain cells begin to die within minutes of losing their supply of oxygen and glucose.
Usually, the blocked artery is caused by atherosclerosis, which is also called hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis causes plaques to form in the inside wall of an artery. Plaques contain cholesterol, calcium and other material.
Plaques gradually expand, which causes narrowing of the artery and reduces blood flow through the artery. Tiny blood clots may break off of the plaque and travel to a smaller artery in the brain, where they suddenly block the flow of blood.
Sometimes blood clots can arise in other parts of the body and reach the brain, causing a TIA. The heart and other large blood vessels can produce clots that may flow through the bloodstream, to the brain.
The symptoms of a TIA occur suddenly, but symptoms resolve as the clot is broken down by natural blood thinners in the body.
Continue to TIA Anatomy
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- Rothwell PM. Incidence, risk factors and prognosis of stroke and TIA: the need for high-quality, large-scale epidemiological studies and meta-analyses. Cerebrovasc Dis. 2003;16 Suppl 3:2-10.