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Difference Between TIA and Stroke: Key Insights Explained

Medically reviewed by Maushmi Sheth
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Medically reviewed by Maushmi Sheth

In the world of health care, some terms may sound quite similar. But they often have very different meanings. Take, for example, the terms “TIA” and “stroke.” These two terms seem like distant cousins. But they’re more like distant cousins – they have a connection, but they’re not the same thing.

Imagine that your brain is like a bustling city whose streets are filled with important information. Now imagine that a TIA is a small traffic jam that quickly dissipates. It’s like a temporary hiccup in the flow of information in your brain. A stroke, on the other hand, is a big, serious traffic jam. It can lead to permanent damage.

Understanding the difference between TIA and stroke is very important. In this text, we will be your guides through the tangled highways of the brain. We will help you distinguish between these two critical events in neurology. So, let’s dive in and understand the fascinating stroke vs TIA – a journey you won’t want to miss!

Definitions and Causes

Before exploring the differences between transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) and strokes, it is essential to lay a solid foundation and know the definitions.

Both TIAs and strokes involve disruptions to the normal blood flow in the brain. A TIA is like a brief thunderstorm in the brain, causing temporary disruptions to its function. But what makes it happen? What causes these temporary disruptions in brain function? These are details we’ll get into later.

A stroke, on the other hand, is a major hurricane that can cause lasting damage. What causes such a devastating event? Understanding the causes of stroke is very important to understand the big picture.

So, let’s break down all the definitions in detail and learn the causes of TIAs and strokes. It will allow you to be well-prepared for unexpected conditions. So, let’s start building our neurological map.

human brain

Transient Ischemic Attacks Definition

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is like a mini-stroke in the brain. It occurs when a tiny blood clot or piece of fatty tissue briefly blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Such a blockage lasts only a short time and feels like a quick hitch in the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

With a TIA, these sudden but temporary symptoms may occur. These include weakness in an arm or leg, difficulty speaking, or temporary blindness. Fortunately, these symptoms go away within minutes or hours. They leave little to no permanent damage. Think of it as a warning signal your brain is sending you. It’s a signal that it’s time to take care of the health of your blood vessels. You need to reduce your risk of developing a full-blown stroke.

Stroke Definition

When it comes to stroke vs TIA, stroke is a serious medical condition. It is somewhat similar to TIA but is more severe. Like TIA, stroke disrupts the blood supply to the brain. But that’s where the similarities end. That’s because stroke has much more severe consequences.

Unlike a TIA, a stroke is not temporary. The effects of a stroke last much longer, and what’s more, they can even be permanent. It is because a stroke causes lasting damage to the brain. A person may lose some abilities. They may have problems with speech or movement of body parts. It is even possible for a person to lose his memory.

A stroke requires immediate treatment. The sooner a person gets help, the better their chances of recovery. But even with treatment, a person may still have consequences. It is why it is so important to prevent stroke and watch for symptoms.

Main Causes of Stroke and TIA

So, you already know the fundamental difference between TIA and stroke. And knowing what causes them can be a decisive factor. Let’s uncover the main causes of these brain disorders. So, what are the causes of stroke? Here are the most common causes:

  • Blood clots. One of the main causes of stroke is the formation of a blood clot in a blood vessel leading to the brain. It causes the flow of blood and oxygen to stop. It is like a traffic jam that stops all movement.
  • Rupture of a blood vessel. Sometimes, a blood vessel in the brain can burst. It leads to a hemorrhagic stroke. Imagine a pipe bursting and flooding your home.
  • High blood pressure. It is essential to monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessels. It increases the risk of stroke.

What are the causes of TIA? There are some common causes, too:

  • Blood clots. As with a stroke, tiny blood clots can briefly block blood vessels. They cause temporary trouble in the form of TIAs.
  • Atherosclerosis. This much-maligned term refers to the accumulation of fatty deposits in blood vessels. It makes them narrow and prone to clogging. It’s similar to a clogged water pipe.
  • Heart problems. Irregular heartbeat or heart disease can cause blood clots to form in the heart and travel to the brain.

Both stroke and TIA often have similar causes. It emphasizes the importance of a healthy lifestyle, controlling blood pressure, and treating heart disease. Understanding what are the causes and signs of TIA and stroke is very important. This way, you can take steps to keep neighboring parts of the brain intact.

the woman is holding her head

Signs of TIA and Stroke

You already know the definition of transient ischemic attacks and stroke. But remember that without knowing the signs, you will not be able to recognize the problem. Let’s break down these warning signs in simple terms.

What are the signs of stroke?

What are the signs of TIA?

  • Facial drooping. One side of the face may droop like a melting candle.
  • Arm weakness. You cannot raise both arms evenly; one arm may droop.
  • Slurred speech. Your words may sound confusing or be difficult to understand.
  • Sudden severe headache. A severe headache may hit like a thunderclap.
  • Trouble walking. You may lose your balance and coordination, stumbling as if you were on a rocking boat.
  • Sudden weakness. An arm or leg may suddenly feel weak or numb as if it has dozed off.
  • Speech problems. You may have difficulty speaking or picking up words as if your voice has gone on vacation.
  • Temporary blindness. It is like a curtain falling that briefly covers the vision in one or both eyes.
  • Vertigo. Feeling as if the ground is playing with you, causing instability.
  • Brief confusion. You may become disoriented or briefly forget about something as if a cloud has passed over the sun.

a woman at a doctor's appointment

Key Differences between Stroke and TIA

Stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) might seem like twins, but they’re more like cousins with distinct characteristics. Here’s a simple guide to highlight the key differences between them:

  • Duration

Stroke: A stroke is like an unwelcome guest that stays. It causes lasting damage and can be permanent.

TIA: Think of a TIA as a fleeting visitor; it’s temporary, and its effects disappear within minutes to hours.

  • Symptoms

Stroke: A stroke brings serious symptoms like slurred speech, face drooping, and severe weakness.

TIA: TIA symptoms are like quick hiccups, often less severe and short-lived.

  • Consequences

Stroke: Strokes can result in long-term disability, affecting your daily life.

TIA: TIAs usually don’t leave lasting damage; they serve as a warning.

  • Urgency

Stroke: Immediate medical attention is crucial; every second counts.

TIA: While still a medical concern, the urgency is not as high as with a stroke.

Understanding these differences, stroke vs TIA, can be a lifesaver. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, don’t delay – seek medical help to ensure the right treatment and outcome.


So, we have been introduced to two such similar but different issues. In the world of health, knowledge is power. Understanding these things can make a big difference in our lives. It’s like a map to navigate the mysteries of the brain. Remember, if you notice signs of a stroke or TIA, act quickly and seek help. Lone Star Neurology Clinic can help you recognize and treat this condition. Don’t stand still. Contact Lone Star Neurology immediately if you have symptoms!


Does TIA always lead to stroke?

No, a TIA does not always lead to a stroke. However, it can be a warning sign. 

What is the primary difference between TIA and stroke? 

The primary difference between a TIA and a stroke is the duration and impact of symptoms. A TIA is temporary. A stroke is more severe.

Can a TIA be a warning sign of a stroke? 

Yes, a TIA can be a warning sign of a stroke. It’s often a sign that there’s a problem with the blood flow to the brain. This could lead to a full stroke in the future.

Are the signs of TIA and stroke similar? 

Yes, the signs of a TIA and stroke are similar. They can include sudden weakness or numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, etc.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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