Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA), or mini strokes occur when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked temporarily. With a TIA, the blockage, usually a blood clot, sticks in place long enough to cause symptoms, and then moves on and is absorbed by the body without any further damage.

It’s big brother, the stroke, occurs when the blockage doesn’t pass and blood flow to that part of the brain is suppressed long enough to cause major damage. Depending on the area of the brain that loses blood flow, different symptoms can occur that range anywhere from weakness or paralysis, usually on one side, to trouble or inability to speak, to complete inability to function which can lead to death.

The TIA should be considered a lucky stroke, a shot across the bow so to speak. If ignored, a TIA is usually a precursor to a stroke. The warning should not be taken lightly.

According to the American Stroke Association, symptoms of a TIA:
* One side of your body may feel numb, tingly, or heavy.
* You may not be able to move your arm, your leg, or your face on one side of your body.
* Things may look blurry or dim. You may have double vision or not be able to see.
* It may be hard to speak. You may slur or mix up your words.
* It may be hard to understand words.
* You may feel unsteady, dizzy, or clumsy. You may have trouble walking.

Not much different than the symptoms of a stroke:
* Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body.
* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding.
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination.
* Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Except in the speed of onset and severity. Anyone who has symptoms of a TIA should seek medical attention immediately and begin treatment to prevent a full blown stroke.

From a life insurance underwriting perspective, obviously a TIA is better news than a stroke, but the truth is that both are insurable once the event has passed and a person is being treated to prevent recurrence. The severity of the event and any contributing factors such as smoking will determine the rate class that will be offered.

Bottom line. We get those warning shots in one form or another all our lives. It could be a TIA. It might be chest pains. It could be getting busted for DUI. The whole idea is to take that warning seriously so we don’t have a stroke, a heart attack, or a drinking problem that leads to something more serious like our death or the death of someone else.