A mini-stroke, also called a transient ischemic attack, has similar symptoms as a stroke but lasts just a few minutes and doesn't cause permanent damage. Like a stroke, it's caused by a clot getting in the way of blood flow to your brain. In a mini-stroke, this blockage doesn't last long and therefore neither do the symptoms and side effects.
Mini-stroke vs. stroke
A true mini-stroke is over within a few minutes, although you might have more than one within a short amount of time. If your symptoms and side effects continue for more than a day or cause permanent damage, you're considered to have had a stroke, not a mini-stroke.
Side effects similar to stroke
Symptoms and side effects of a mini-stroke are similar to those of a full-blown stroke; the main difference is that they're gone within a few minutes or hours. These temporary side effects may include slurred speech or trouble comprehending what people are saying, and sudden blindness or double vision in one or both eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Other temporary side effects
The specific side effects and symptoms you experience may vary depending on which part of the brain is being blocked from blood flow. Additional temporary side effects are sudden weakness, numbness or paralysis, most commonly in your face or an arm or leg, and usually only on one side of your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, you also may be dizzy or have trouble with balance or coordination.
One of the most important side effects of a mini-stroke is that it can serve as a warning: About a third of people who have a mini-stroke will have a stroke at some point--within a year for half of these people. Many of the risk factors for strokes (see Resources) are within your control, so a mini-stroke may be the motivation you need to get healthier and decrease the odds of a future stroke.
If you think you've had a mini-stroke, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. Besides verifying that that's what you experienced, your doctor will figure out what caused the mini-stroke and, based on that, put together a plan aimed at preventing further occurrences or a stroke. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medications, surgery or a combination of these, depending on the specifics of your case.