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Silent Stroke Facts

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

silent-stroke-facts

Silent Strokes Statistics

It is possible to have a silent stroke (asymptomatic cerebral infarction) while being completely unaware or you may just not remember it. We tend to think of strokes that occur with paralysis and slurred speech, but silent strokes may cause no symptoms.

In the U.S. it is estimated that 760,000 to 780,000 people have symptomatic strokes annually. However, for every person that has a stroke 14 people have had a silent stroke. Researchers estimate that more than one-third of people over the age of 70 have had a silent stroke. Women tend to be at a higher risk.

What Is a Silent Stroke?

Silent strokes occur when the blood supply is cut off to an area of the brain (brain infarct), which deprives the brain of oxygen. The area affected is smaller than the area with a traditional stroke. They also tend to affect less-functional areas of the brain, however, the effect can have a significant and lasting impact on the memory. The brain infarcts are not treatable, so a cumulative effect can be significant.

The damage typically shows up on an MRI or a CT scan, even if the affected area is so small that it does not produce symptoms. The most common scenario is several of these silent strokes happening over a period time, which will affect the memory.

Researchers studied 650 people who had no history of dementia, which is recorded in the journal called Neurology. They found over 170 participants had small areas of dead tissue in the brain, although 66 people reported having some stroke symptoms. Participants with the brain infarcts had difficulty with memory and mental processes. These memory issues did not shrink the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

silent-stroke-facts

Silent Strokes Risk Factors

Some of the causes of silent stroke include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood clots (atrial fibrillation)
  • Narrowed arteries
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Metabolic Syndrome

What is a silent stroke? - Raul Guisado, MD - Neurologist

Signs of Multi-infarct Dementia

Many people have had multiple strokes, which may occur suddenly or they may go unnoticed at first. The symptoms include:

  • Memory problems
  • Emotional issues (crying or laughing at inappropriate times)
  • Changes to the way you walk
  • Having trouble in making decisions
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Losing bladder and bowel control

Mini Strokes

A mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack TIA) is an occurrence where the brain has a temporary experience with lack of blood flow, but the symptoms resolve within 24 hours.

Fortunately, the symptoms are not permanent, and they include:

  • Dysarthria (physical difficult with speaking)
  • Dysphasia (language disorder)
  • Vision changes
  • Balance issues
  • Confusion
  • Tingling
  • Dizziness
  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Severe headache
  • Fainting or passing out
  • An abnormal sense of taste or smell
  • Weakness or numbness on the right or left side of the face and/or body
silent-stroke-facts

Avoiding a Stroke

There are some things that will help avoid having a stroke, and they include:

  • Garlic
  • Vitamin E
  • Exercise
  • Keto diet along with fasting (May be helpful)

Silent Strokes Linked to Lost Memory in Older Adults

Final Thoughts

The American Stroke Association states that silent strokes increase the risk of having a symptomatic stroke in the future. Researchers have realized for a long time that silent strokes are fairly common. Multiple silent strokes do result in memory problems. They may also be at risk for vascular dementia that causes a decline in cognitive skills. There may be a problem with reasoning, memory or judgment. If you think you may have had a silent stroke talk to your doctor. The heartbreaking fact is there is no treatment.

I know someone who had what they think is a silent stroke. They did have symptoms. They were sleeping for numerous hours over several days, and during those days they said little. They were briefly confused or maybe forgetful, but nothing too significant.

After about a week they wondered what happened as they knew they had lost about a week, but did not know why. They seemed unable to have any detailed discussion during that time. They were totally cognisant after a few days. I do not know what will be next for this person.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 30, 2021:

Hi Doris,

It seems like you have had so many medical problems. Hemorrhagic strokes can be treated if you get to the ER in time, so if that happens again please call 911. They can reverse strokes when they are treated within a very few hours.

Silent strokes are different as often we don't have symptoms. I hope you are doing better now. You may need to be evaluated by a neurosurgeon. It is important to keep your blood pressure in a normal range. I hope you will do better from this time on.

Thank you for your comments, Doris. I hope you stay safe and healthy.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 30, 2021:

Pamela, I wish I'd heard of silent strokes before. I had a stroke in October 2019, but it wasn't totally silent. We'd gone to my high school reunion 90 miles away. I drove as I always do because my husband goes to sleep at the wheel. I did fine driving there, but I noticed some problems returning home. My husband said that I was driving "jerky". When I was removing my makeup, I notice a slight droop in the left side of my face and my left eye. Despite his medical training when he was younger, he swears that there is nothing doctors can do for a stroke, so it was four days before I convinced him that I needed to see a doctor. Two days in the hospital revealed that my vision and balance were affected. I didn't drive for two months after that. The doctor said that if my vision didn't return to normal in six months, it probably wouldn't. I didn't let husband know it, but I was terrified and paranoid just driving around town. Thirteen months later, one day I realized that my vision was "normal" again, but my balance is still a little off. I think my stroke was brought on by too high a dose of synthroid and the doctor had not been serious about keeping my BP down. He got serious real quick after that. Thanks for the information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 30, 2021:

Hi Shauna,

I agree! This is scary but it is a good idea to know this can happen. I hope it never happens to you or your loved ones.

I appreciate your comments. Take care.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 30, 2021:

Wow, Pamela. This is scary stuff! I hope this never happens to me or anyone I know.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 30, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I am glad you found this article informative. I appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 30, 2021:

Hi Pamela a great reminder of us to take care of ourselves. Something that we don't notice and tend to neglect each day. This is important and most informative.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 29, 2021:

Thank you for your comments, Flourish.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 29, 2021:

At first when I saw that colons headlin I thought you were getting all medical on us!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 29, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

I know there a lot of benefits to the Keto diet besides weight loss. I am glad you have more information about prevention now.

I appreciate your comments. Have a good week!

Adrienne Farricelli on March 29, 2021:

I am glad to read that a keto diet may also help in the prevention of a stroke. I am on this diet because of a family history of diabetes, and it seems to offer many other benefits. Knowing that it prevents strokes as well will keep me even more motivated to stay on it.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 29, 2021:

Hi MG,

These strokes affect a very small part of the brain, so you may not know some part of your personality has changed or just write off forgetfulness to getting older.

I appreciate your comments. Have a good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 29, 2021:

Hi Audry,

It is a good idea to do whatever you can. I do not know for sure abut the garlic as it wasn't spelled out anywhere I looked. You can buy jars of garlic that might be as good s fresh.

I am glad you found this information helpful. Thank you so much for your comments. Have a great week, Audry.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 28, 2021:

After reading this article I was a little perplexed. I have wondered how one can get a stroke and not know about it. You have given a wealth of information thank you very much for it.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on March 28, 2021:

This is helpful information, Pamela. I want to do whatever I can to prevent silent strokes. Since garlic is helpful, is a supplement as good as fresh? Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Heidi,

It is scary since we might not know it has happened.

I appreciate you reading and commenting. Have a great week, Heidi!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 28, 2021:

Certainly a scary condition! Thanks for sharing the info!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Ms Dora,

I am glad you appreciate this information. I think it is important to know the symptoms of silent strokes as we age.

Thank you so much for your comments. Have a great week, Dora.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 28, 2021:

This a very helpful article. Thanks for the information, the warnings and the suggestions. Something else to discuss with my doctor.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

Memory and other symptoms are common for silent strokes. Often people do not know this has happened until they have problems with their memory. You have seen an example of this problem.

Thank you so much for your comments. Have a great week!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I am glad you found this article important as I think it is, especially for seniors. I appreciate your comments, Linda. I hope you have a wonderful week.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2021:

I’m glad you provided I information on what you could potentially do to prevent it. I know someone whose doctor told them that they have had several minor strokes (they were completely unaware). They certainly do have memory and other symptoms.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on March 28, 2021:

Another excellent article Pamela. This is something everyone should read because time is so very important when addressing a stroke. At my age I know this is something to keep in mind.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Bill,

It is good to be informed about a disease like this one when you are our age. LOL

I appreciate your comments, my friend. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 28, 2021:

Thanks for the information, Pamela. I pay close attention to articles like this one; I figure that's a good thing to do when you are 72. :)

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Vidya,

I am glad you found this article informative, and that it is new information for you. It is safer to always be informed.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week.

VIDYA D SAGAR on March 28, 2021:

Hi Pamela, once again a very informative article. I dint know about this. It's better to be informed as timely treatment is very important in strokes. Thanks for sharing this valuable article Pamela.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

I hope you can share the article with those relatives. It is important to be aware of the symptoms.

Thank you for your nice comments. I hope you have a very good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Mel,

I am gla to hear your mother fully recovered from the stroke. She obviously had a hemorrhagic stroke. Your stepfather may very well have suffered from a series of silent strokes. That is heartbreaking.

I appreciate your comments, as always. Have a good week, Mel.

Rosina S Khan on March 28, 2021:

This is definitely a helpful and informative article. My Mom and so many relatives are above the age of 70 and this article could help them to be aware of the symptoms of a silent stroke. Thank you, Pamela, for writing this educative and important article.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 28, 2021:

This subject is near and dear to my heart. My Mother had a stroke last April that was not silent at all, but much too loud. Fortunately she appears to have suffered no significant cognitive decline as a result. But about a decade and a half ago we lost a dear stepfather, who may have suffered these silent strokes because, although he complained of no symptoms, he did eventually suffer severe memory issues, and losing his way in familiar places was what led to his passing. Great article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi DW,

Lets hope you have no problems, but I am glad you are aware of the symptoms now.

Thank you for your comments. Have a good week.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Ann,

I think your saying is very appropriate. The silent stroke is more common in men, but this is alarming regardless since there are no symptoms.

I am glad you found this article informative. I appreciate your very nice comments, Ann. Have a wonderful week!

DW Davis from Eastern NC on March 28, 2021:

I am glad you posted this article as I have two of the risk factors you listed. I will now be on the watch for signs.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 28, 2021:

Very interesting, Pamela. I'd never heard of this before. It's a bit alarming if it's not detectable and we think something strange is happening to our memory! So far, I think I'm ok - I hope!

There is a saying, 'Getting old doesn't come alone!'

Yet another of your excellent, informative articles, Pamela!

Ann

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Clive,

I love your sense of humor. Alien abduction sounds more interesting.

Thank you for your comments. Have a wonderful week!

Clive Williams from Jamaica on March 28, 2021:

You have just educated me on this new topic. there i was thinking my memory loss was Alien abduction. Great Info here.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

Unfortunately, you learned the fdangers first hand. I read in several places that people often don't know as there are no symptoms. The sad part is there is nothing that can be done quite often.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week, Peggy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2021:

My mother-in-law had several TIA's before her major stroke, which ultimately took her life. Many people probably have them and are unaware. Thanks for writing about this silent potential killer. We learned that it can often lead to a full-blown stroke.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Fran,

I think a lot of people did not know the signs of a silent stroke, so I am glad you found this article informative.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week!

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on March 28, 2021:

Pamela, thank you for another very important, informative article. We all should know the signs and symptoms of strokes. Good info, thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I am glad you found this article to be informative. i'm glad you learned some new things.

I appreciate your comments. Have a good week. Blessings!

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on March 28, 2021:

This is a very informative and helpful article, Pamela

Thanks for sharing it, I have learned a lot from this article

Blessings :)

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

I sure hope you aunt will be okay. It is very good that she had family close to her. Knowing the symptoms saves lives, and yes, time is of the essence when someone has a stroke.

The TV is a great way to spread information. It is too bad they stopped. I apreciate your comments. Have a great week, Manatita. Blessings.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi Liz,

Sometimes people have several silent strokes, and they are at risk for a serious stroke. It really is good to be aware of these symptoms.

Thank you for your comments. Have a wonderful week, Liz.

manatita44 from london on March 28, 2021:

Ha-ha. Chuckle. No laughing matter, true, but why does this person sound like someone I know?

You have covered a very significant subject. Most families should have some kind of self-help awareness and some years ago, there were educational programs on T.V here in the UK, so that families and children could help each other.

So, for example, someone suddenly becoming unresponsive, or with slurred speech, twitching or face turned to the side, etc, is bad news and needs an emergency call immediately! Time is important with strokes.

My aunt had one (TIA) two weeks ago, but the children were there and noticed she had become unresponsive. She's now out of hospital and doing well. Excellent Hub! Thank you for allowing me to ramble on a bit. Have a great Sunday!!

Liz Westwood from UK on March 28, 2021:

This is a very helpful article. It highlights symptoms that we all need to be aware of and look out for in ourselves and those around us. Presumably those who have had silent strokes are at greater risk of having a serious stroke and sustaining long term serious damage.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on March 28, 2021:

Hi John,

This was actually new to me, but when something happened to someone I knew I had to do the research. I was surprised at the fairly high statistics. I agree that it is good to me aware.

I appreciate your comments. Have a good week!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on March 28, 2021:

Wow Pamela, I didn’t know there was such thing as silent strikes, though I had heard of mini strokes before. It is always good to be aware. Thank you for sharing.

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