Silent stroke: Everything you need to know
What is a silent stroke?
A silent stroke (or asymptomatic cerebral infarction) is when you are having a stroke but are not aware of it, because there are no symptoms of a stroke (like slurring of speech, numbness, or drooping of one side of your face).
Even though there are no visible symptoms, a silent stroke can still lead to permanent brain damage.
Silent strokes affect 8 million Americans every year (The American Heart Association).
How is it different?
A silent stroke differs only in terms of the ‘affected site’ of your brain.
Unlike ischemic stroke, a silent stroke is caused by the disrupted blood supply to that part of your brain that doesn’t control any visible functions like speaking or moving, so you might never know you suffered a stroke.
How common is it?
Silent strokes are more common than other types of strokes that have classic symptoms.
According to reports by the American Stroke Association, one in four people over 80 have had one or more silent strokes.
The alarming part of a silent stroke is that you have no clue that you have suffered a stroke, so there is no possibility of getting medical assistance/treatment.
How do I know if I had a silent stroke?
- There is no way of knowing until you have had multiple silent strokes that can lead to brain damage significant enough to produce visible signs.
- Most silent strokes are detected on MRI or CT scans as a white area in your brain (where the brain cells have stopped functioning).
- Multiple silent strokes put you at risk for multi-infarct dementia. This is what it looks like:
- Difficulty remembering things
- Difficulty controlling your emotions
- Changes in your way of walking
- Inability to concentrate
- Difficulty remembering directions to familiar places
- Difficulty making routine decisions
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
Is it less dangerous because it has no symptoms?
Just because it’s not visible, doesn’t mean there’s no damage.
- Silent strokes affect a small area of your brain but do the same amount of damage as any stroke.
- What’s worse, you would need to have multiple silent strokes before there are any noticeable symptoms.
- Silent strokes increase your risk of having a major stroke in the future.
Although non-existent or very mild, a silent stroke may show up as:
- Momentary memory loss
- Sudden lack of balance
- Temporary loss of bladder control
- Sudden changes in mood or personality
- Issues with cognitive/learning ability
Can it be prevented?
The answer is YES! Although it’s hard to spot, it’s extremely easy to prevent.
Here are some things you can start today:
- Eat healthily.
- Get your blood pressure under control.
- Manage your weight.
- Keep diabetes in check.
- Cut down on salt intake.
- Lower your cholesterol levels.
- Quit smoking.
The bottom line
You probably won’t know that you’ve had a silent stroke unless you happen to have a brain scan and the damage shows up. You may think that your ‘memory problems’ or ‘difficulty getting around’ are just a part of ‘growing old.’
Make an appointment with us if you have any concerns. At Doral Health and Wellness, we have doctors that can help you manage your condition. For more information, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11212, or call us at 1-347-384-5690. You can also visit our website at https://doralhw.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.