Transient ischemic attack: reviewing the evolution of the definition, diagnosis, risk stratification, and management for the emergency physician

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2012 Aug;30(3):745-70. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2012.05.001.


A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an episode of reversible neurologic deficit caused by temporary focal central nervous system hypoperfusion. TIA is a medical emergency. Because patients with TIA in the emergency department (ED) have a high risk for stroke within the next 48 hours, it is imperative for the clinician to recognize this golden opportunity to prevent a disabling stroke. This article reviews our conceptual understanding of TIA, its definition, diagnosis, ways to stratify stroke risk, the acute management and disposition in the ED, and the potential future role of diagnostic biomarkers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Emergency Medical Services* / methods
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnosis*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnostic imaging
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / pathology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / therapy
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Anticoagulants
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors