Migraine and TIA

Because a migraine often involves a range of symptoms other than the typical throbbing headaches, there are other illness that must be ruled out - including TIA- before a diagnosis is made. There is a growing body of research that indicates migraines may increase the chance of TIA and other cardiovascular events.

Migraines and TIA

TIA is the short name for transient ischemic attack, which is sometimes called a mini-stroke or a warning stroke. A TIA happens because a blood clot momentarily clogs an artery. This temporarily prevents vital blood from getting to a portion of the brain. The lack of fresh blood cause symptoms to come on and then go away quickly when blood flow is restored. When the TIA is over there is no lasting, long-term brain damage that is seen with a stroke. These mini-strokes are called warnings because people who have them are at a much higher risk of having a full-blown stroke within a year.

Symptoms of a TIA

The symptoms of migraine and a TIA very similar. They all can cause changes in vision. However, in migraine headaches, the visual disturbances are dynamic and keep moving. Whereas with TIA the vision problems tend to remain static. Also, the migraine headaches symptoms typically come on gradually. With a TIA, the keyword is “sudden,” because the symptoms feel like they appear quickly.

The symptoms of a TIA include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in any body part including the face, arms or legs, especially if it occurs on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden problems seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

(Source: The American Heart Association)

If you notice any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention by calling 9-1-1. These symptoms are serious and must be treated immediately to prevent permanent damage or possible death. Only a doctor can determine if you’re suffering from a migraine headaches, TIA or some other disorder.

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Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010