What is a Mini Stroke?

By Dr. Sanjay Saxena in Neurosciences

Feb 22 , 2018 | 3 min read

Stroke is one of the primary causes of death and disability around the world. It is termed as a silent killer because it can happen suddenly without any warning signs. During a stroke, there is a sudden stop of blood supply to the brain causing cell death. There are two types of strokes viz. Ischemic and Hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke occurs due to the lack of blood flow while hemorrhagic stroke occurs due to bleeding.

A mini-stroke is also known as a ‘Transient Ischemic Attack’ or TIA. It occurs when there is a temporary blockage of a blood vessel(s) in the brain which disrupts the blood flow.

What Are the Symptoms of a Mini-Stroke?

A mini-stroke is often difficult to identify; however, the following signs and symptoms may indicate a mini-stroke, which is sudden in onset.

  • Weakness or incoordination of one side of the body
  • Vision changes (temporary blindness in one eye or double vision)
  • One-sided facial droop
  • Trouble in speaking (dysphasia)
  • Tingling
  • Problems with balance
  • Passing out
  • Dizziness
  • Abnormal sense of taste and smell
  • Confusion

In case of a mini-stroke, the symptoms may last for one or two hours. Mini-strokes act as a warning sign before a major full-blown stroke and must be dealt with treatment immediately to avoid permanent disability or death.

How is a Mini-Stroke Diagnosed?

A mini-stroke is diagnosed after checking for symptoms and prompt evaluation of the patient. To diagnose a mini-stroke, a doctor will conduct the following tests:

Physical Examination

The doctor will look for physical symptoms in a patient and assess their lifestyle. Tests like blood sugar, amino acid homocysteine, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure will be conducted to evaluate the present situation.

CT Scan

Once the physical examination is done and necessary blood tests are conducted, the doctor will then refer for a CT scan to look for blood clots in the brain.

MRI Scan

If the results from CT scan are not evident, then an MRI scan will be done to get a 3D overview of the brain to look for blood clots.


Echocardiography abbreviated as ECH is a sonogram (medical ultrasound) of the heart. It is of two types viz. TEE (transesophageal echocardiogram) and TTE (transthoracic echocardiogram) and is further used to assess the blood clots in case of a mini-stroke.


In arteriography, a surgeon inserts a catheter into the body and injects a dye to get an X-ray image of the arteries. This test is only done if the results mentioned above fail in locating a blood clot.

What are the treatment options for a Mini Stroke?

Anyone who has experienced a mini-stroke must get brain stroke treatment without any delay. There are many treatment options available for mini-stroke that aid in correcting any abnormalities in the blood vessels. The preferred treatment option depends on the cause of stroke.


In case of a mini-stroke, medications are highly critical in controlling the damage. According to the diagnosis and after a proper evaluation of the mini-stroke, the doctor may prescribe various medicines such as:

  • Thrombolytic agents
  • Anti-platelet drugs
  • Anticoagulants 

Minimally Invasive Carotid Intervention

It is a minimally invasive surgery where the doctor accesses the carotid arteries with a catheter. In this process, the doctor inserts a catheter through one of the major arteries like a femoral artery in the groin. With a balloon-like device, the blocked arteries are opened up and then secured with a wire or a stent to improve blood flow to the brain.


In case a patient has exceptionally narrow carotid arteries and is not a good fit for a carotid angioplasty or stenting, the doctor may conduct a carotid endarterectomy. Surgery is also performed to prevent future strokes.

Mini-strokes are of critical concern and must never be ignored. They can be life-threatening and lead to death in case of a full-blown stroke. These strokes are mostly silent, and people can have them without ever knowing. We at Max Healthcare provide stroke treatment with intensive care for better and faster recovery.