Silent Stroke: What You Need to Know

Have you had a stroke? How could you tell?

A stroke is a sudden stop of blood supply to part of the brain. Some people have strokes without ever knowing it. These so-called silent strokes either have no easy-to-recognize symptoms, or you don’t remember them. But they do cause permanent damage in your brain.

If you've had more than one silent stroke, you may have thinking and memory problems. They can also lead to more severe strokes.

Detecting a Silent Stroke

If you have a silent stroke, you probably won’t know it, unless you happen to have a brain scan and the damage shows up. You may have slight memory problems or a little difficulty getting around. A doctor may be able to see signs of silent strokes without testing.

Different From TIA

Silent Strokes More Common Than You'd Expect

A study of middle-aged people with no apparent signs of stroke found that about 10% had brain damage from one.

High blood pressure and irregular heartbeat raise your risk.

The damage that occurs is permanent, but therapy might help stimulate other parts of the brain so you regain functions that may have weakened.

Prevent Strokes With Good Habits

These healthy habits can help you lower your risk of both stroke and heart disease:

  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Cut back on fat, salt, and sugar.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on November 21, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Ralph Sacco, MD, chairman of neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, past president of the American Heart Association.

American Stroke Association: “TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack);” “Life's Simple 7;” “Ischemic Strokes (Clots);'' and ''Learn More Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms.”

Sacco, R. Stroke. May 7, 2013.

American Heart Association: “Spot a Stroke.”

Stroke Connection: “Healthy People and 'Silent Strokes.'”

Das, R. Stroke. June 26, 2008.

Prabhakaran, S. Neurology. Sept. 26, 2007.

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