Updated on 3 January 2020
When we consider strokes in medical parlance, we often relate certain warning signs or symptoms like slurred speech, numbness, or loss of movement in the face or body. But some people have strokes without realizing it. These are called silent strokes.
A silent stroke happens when the blood supply to a part of the brain is suddenly cut off, depriving a person's brain of oxygen and damaging some brain cells in the process. They do not have any explicit warning signs or recognizable symptoms. But they do cause lasting damage to the affected parts of the brain.
It has been noticed that the chances of getting a stroke go up if a person has high blood pressure or irregular heartbeat. Silent strokes in particular are hard to detect because they disrupt the blood supply to a part of the brain that doesn’t control vital functions like speaking or moving. If a person has had one or more silent strokes, he may suffer from thinking and memory problems. Silent strokes could lead to more severe strokes.
If a person has had a silent stroke, they probably won't know it unless they happen to have a brain scan and the damage shows up. The person may have slight memory problems or a little difficulty getting around. Most people find out if they had a silent stroke only when they have an MRI or CT scan for another condition and doctors notice that small areas of the brain have been damaged.
After a silent stroke, the brain CT scan or MRI will show white spots or lesions in the brain where cells have stopped functioning. There are other subtle signs of silent strokes, often mistaken for ageing, like trouble in keeping balance, falling or tripping, leakage of urine, mood changes and decreased ability to think.
If a person experiences silent stroke symptoms, they would need to undergo a series of tests. These can include a CT scan, MRI and also an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to look for heart abnormalities or blood tests to check for any underlying conditions that may cause symptoms similar to a stroke. If the stroke has caused heart failure, then it can be treated by heart valve replacement.
Once the type of stroke, area of the brain affected and extent of damage are known, treatment options can be chosen accordingly. Depending on the extent of damage, silent stroke treatment may include thrombolysis, a process used to dissolve blood clots and restore blood flow through the use of medication.
It may also be treated with medication only to relieve an underlying condition like high blood pressure (which is a major risk factor for silent strokes). Surgery may be necessary to fix damaged arteries, relieve pressure to due bleeding, or remove a blood clot that doesn't respond to medication. In some cases, if the damage is permanent and not treatable, its effects can be mitigated by therapy. The therapy helps stimulate other parts of the brain so that the person may regain abilities that have weakened.
It is pertinent to get critical heart diseases treated at the likes of CARE Hospitals, the best stroke treatment hospital in Vizag. Nevertheless, prevention is better than cure and one can prevent the risk of having any type of stroke by adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes quitting bad habits like smoking, exercising regularly and eating a wholesome diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with minimal saturated fats, salt and sugar. It is also important to keep a regular tab on body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels to make sure they are all in a healthy target range.
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