Silent strokes are hard to diagnose due to the absence of symptoms. It is 14 times more common than symptomatic stroke. More than one-third of people over the age of 70 years suffer from at least one silent stroke. The patient should not ignore sudden reduction in memory and cognitive function, and must consult a doctor immediately.
Before we discuss the symptoms, prevention and management of silent strokes, it is essential to understand what these really are.
In the case of stroke, there is sudden deprivation of blood and nutrients to the brain tissues, due to blockage or rupture of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. In many cases, the patients with stroke, either ischemic or hemorrhagic, present several symptoms. These include slurred speech, loss of movement, inability to lift their hands, or sudden confusion.
However, in some cases, patients do not experience any symptoms. It is because silent stroke alters that part of the brain, which is “silent”, meaning it doesn’t control any vital functions. This is known as a silent stroke.
The doctor identifies this type of stroke when patients undergo a CT scan or MRI to diagnose some other condition. The image often shows the damaged brain tissues, as a result of silent stroke.
Apart from the CT scan or MRI that diagnoses the silent stroke, the patient may also experience other symptoms. However, these symptoms are mistaken for aging signs. These are:
Several factors increase the risk of the condition. These are:
Its treatment depends upon the extent of damage in the brain. The doctor may prescribe certain medications to manage dementia. The primary aim of the treatment is to regain the lost functions. The doctor may recommend speech therapy, physical therapy, and psychotherapy.
The recovery of damaged brain tissue is difficult and often incomplete. In the majority of cases, the healthy brain tissues take over the functions performed by the damaged part. However, in cases of prolonged and progressive silent stroke, the ability of the brain to take up the task of damaged tissues reduces.
Silent stroke affects only limited areas of the brain. However, this does not undermine the complications of this condition. In several cases, it may result in neurological dysfunction that can affect memory and concentration. Patients experiencing a sudden alteration in cognitive functioning must consult a doctor without any delay.
Patients with reduced memory can perform several tasks to improve their cognitive abilities. The patients must engage in memory games, use a pillbox, make lists of essential tasks, and learn to keep necessary things at a particular place.
There are several ways to prevent the condition. Some of them are: