Stroke and TIA

Stroke Syndromes


Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA):

TIA is defined as follows: “a transient episode of neurological dysfunction caused by focal brain, spinal cord, or retinal ischemia, without acute infarction. View TIAs as ominous signs of cerebral vascular disease indicating a high risk of stroke in the near future.”1 (Approach to TIAs)




Stroke is generally defined as any disease process that interrupts blood flow to the brain. Stroke results from two major mechanisms: ischemia and hemorrhage.” 1


  • Ischemic strokes, which account for 87% of all strokes, are categorized by cause as thrombotic, embolic, or hypoperfusion related.”1
  • Hemorrhagic strokes are subdivided into intracerebral (accounting for 10% of all strokes) and nontraumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage (accounting for 3% of all strokes).”1


“The diagnosis of stroke in the ED rests on the bedrock of a focused, accurate history and physical examination. The clinical presentation of stroke can range from the obvious (facial droop, arm drift, abnormal speech) to the subtle (generalized weakness, lightheadedness, vague sensory changes, altered mental status).”1


“Time is a critical component in the care of stroke patients. Accurate determination of the time of onset of the patient’s symptoms is essential.”1


Click HERE for a list of all mentioned FOAM resources.


  1. Go, S., Worman, D., Chapter 167, “Stroke Syndromes”. Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine – A Comprehensive Study Guide. J Tintinalli. 8th ed. McGraw-Hill Education, 2016.


Prepared by Alex Mungham PGY1 FM – University of Ottawa