Silent Stroke: What You Need to Know

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on November 24, 2019

Some people have strokes without realizing it. They're called silent strokes, and they 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.

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.

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

Prevent Strokes With Good Habits

Your chances of getting a stroke go up if you have high blood pressure or irregular heartbeat.

Changes to the way you live can help lower your odds of stroke and heart disease. Make a plan to adopt these healthy habits:

  • Keep tabs on your blood pressure, and get it under control if it's too high.
  • Check your cholesterol.
  • Keep your blood sugar at the right levels.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Cut back on saturated fats (found in red meat, for example), salt, and sugar.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Keep to a healthy weight.
WebMD Medical Reference



Ralph Sacco, MD, chairman of neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; past president, 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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