Many people don’t learn they’ve had a silent stroke until they get a brain scan for another reason, and doctors notice white spots or lesions that indicate damage from a previous stroke.
It’s important to note that silent stroke damage increases your risk of a future stroke. If you’ve already had one, talk to your doctor about reducing your risk factors through medication and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.
The most common way a silent stroke is discovered is when doctors order a brain scan, such as a CT or MRI, for another reason, like headaches, dizziness, or to rule out Parkinson’s disease, and they notice spots caused by dead brain cells. But these spots can be challenging to identify. That’s because the stroke disrupted blood flow to a part of the brain that doesn’t control movement or visible symptoms like numbness or slurred speech.
After a brain scan shows signs of a stroke, experts recommend people be evaluated for risk factors that contribute to blood vessel blockages, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol levels, and screened for atrial fibrillation. This irregular heartbeat increases the chance of stroke-causing clots. They also should be prescribed medications, such as blood thinning drugs and statins, to reduce the possibility of future strokes.
A stroke can cause issues with motor coordination, making you bump into or drop things. The brain, nerves, and cerebellum must all work together, specializing in balance and movement.
Clumsiness is usually a sign of a severe medical issue, especially if it is sudden or worsens over time. It could indicate a health condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, that raises your stroke risk.
Many people don’t learn they’ve had silent strokes until they undergo a brain scan for another problem, like memory loss or headaches. In those cases, doctors can spot telltale white spots on the brain that indicate dead or damaged brain cells. It can happen in the brain areas that control movement, but it can also occur in parts that aren’t responsible for those functions.
While a standard stroke is a 911 emergency that interrupts blood flow to the brain and damages brain cells, silent strokes can still do damage. These occurrences occur when blood flow to a small area of the brain is cut off, and they can cause acute symptoms, including double vision, dizziness, or numbness on one side of the face.
Doctors can usually tell if a person has suffered a silent stroke by looking at their brain scan and seeing white spots that indicate scar tissue from the clot. These clots often form from fatty deposits called atherosclerosis that block blood flow to the brain.
Most people who suffer a silent stroke don’t know they have had a problem because the interruption of blood flow affects a part of the brain that doesn’t control visible movements or body functions. However, medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems like atrial fibrillation, and sedentary lifestyle habits increase the risk of silent strokes.
Talk to your doctor if you notice memory loss or have difficulty thinking clearly. It may indicate a silent stroke or another health condition like high blood pressure, heart disease, or atrial fibrillation.
Most people don’t find out they had a silent stroke until their doctor orders a brain scan for another reason. The scan shows telltale white spots in the brain that indicate dead brain cells and a blockage.
Although the damage is minor, silent strokes increase your risk for future symptomatic strokes and cognitive decline. By abstaining from cigarettes and stress, treating chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure, eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and taking medication to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, you can reduce your risk.
Occasionally, a doctor discovers a silent stroke when an abnormality on a brain scan shows up or during a checkup related to another health condition. Whenever this happens, it’s time to ensure that person gets the treatment they need to control their risk factors. It should include medication for blood pressure and cholesterol, a healthy diet low in salt and fat, regular exercise, and no smoking.
If someone you know has a history of silent stroke, keep an eye out for the warning signs of the FAST test: B for balance and eyes (is one side of the face drooping or numb?), E for arm weakness (can they raise both arms?) and S for (Is the speech slurred or hard to understand?) and take them to the hospital for a brain scan.