A transient ischaemic attack (TIA), perhaps better referred to as transient brain ischaemia, may be defined as an ischaemic focal disturbance of brain function lasting less than 24 hours; most attacks last less than 30 minutes. The attacks need to be distinguished from focal or temporal lobe epilepsy or the premonitory symptoms before a migrainous headache. The ischaemia may occur in either the carotid or vertebro-basilar territory. Attacks tend to recur, and can herald an impending stroke. Transient ischaemia is usually due to embolism from an atheromatous lesion. Concomitant conditions such as anaemia1 and polycythaemia2 make attacks more likely, a fact too often ignored in reports on the treatment of transient brain ischaemia.
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