A. In general, a stroke refers to the death of brain tissue, due to lack of oxygenated blood reaching a particular area of the brain. They can either be characterized as a mini stroke - TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) or full stroke - CVA (Cerebrovascular Accident). Strokes are one of the leading causes of death and disability in adults today.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
A TIA, is a brief, temporary ischemic attack (less than 24 hours), that resolves itself without permanent damage to the brain or residual neurologic impairment. Most TIAs are due to a small temporary blockage of a cerebral or carotid artery that impairs neurological activity for a short period of time. Symptoms include temporary numbness, dizziness, weakness, blurry vision or dizziness, speech abnormalities and fainting. Because of the fleeting nature of TIAs, the Dr.’s diagnosis is usually made from history alone, rather than by physical exam or lab testing. Often it’s reported to the doctor by someone that observed the event and can recall the symptoms.
Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA)
A CVA, in contrast, occurs when one or more blood vessels in the brain are blocked or rupture, and often lead to permanent damage. Lack of blood flow (ischemia) is the major cause of strokes, and atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries) is the leading cause of cerebral ischemia. High blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and heart disease are all major risk factors for strokes. Testing for CVAs will include CT scans, MRIs, carotid ultrasounds or Doppler testing and echocardiograms or stress tests. CVAs have similar symptoms as TIAs and can result in long lasting neurological impairments, memory loss, and paralysis.
In our next blog post, we will discuss what kind of underwriting class someone who had a stroke might get.