Silent Killer: what is a silent stroke and how to prevent it

An asymptomatic stroke is a frightening phenomenon, because in this case you may not even notice that something has happened to your body. We tell you how to recognize a “dumb stroke” and what to do to avoid health problems.

Тихий убийца: что такое немой инсульт и как его предотвратить

A stroke can completely change a person’s ability to function. However, sometimes it can go unnoticed. Many patients remain caught off guard and shocked to learn that at some point in their lives they suffered an asymptomatic or “mute stroke”, and at the same time did not notice any disorders in the body.

Usually, a “silent stroke” is detected unexpectedly with CT or MRI of the brain. These imaging tests can easily distinguish long-standing strokes from recent ones. Recent episodes have certain features that are not visible if the stroke occurred in the past, such as swelling, inflammation, blood clots and bleeding. Long-standing strokes, as a rule, have certain characteristic manifestations caused by tissue atrophy and calcium deposits.

Reports that you have previously had an asymptomatic stroke sounds scary, but this is not a reason to panic. However, a quiet stroke and the absence of any neurological symptoms does not necessarily mean that you are safe. If you have had a stroke in the past, this is a serious signal that you need a new strategy to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of future strokes. Here are a few important things to know about living with an asymptomatic stroke.

How to distinguish a mute stroke from a micro stroke

Тихий убийца: что такое немой инсульт и как его предотвратить

A mute stroke is not the same as a micro stroke. A micro stroke is described as a transient ischemic attack. This is a stroke that causes noticeable symptoms that disappear completely without any long-term brain damage. This is also an important signal of the body, but it does not cause noticeable damage to the brain and is not imprinted on an MRI or CT scan of the brain, although it predicts future strokes and requires the same preventive measures as in the case of an asymptomatic stroke. But the consequences of a silent stroke will be visible when checking for an MRI or CT scan.

Good news

Тихий убийца: что такое немой инсульт и как его предотвратить

The good news is that silent strokes tend to be less dangerous because they occur in areas where other parts of the brain can compensate for the damage. In short, if a certain part of the brain is damaged, other adjacent neural pathways can take over its functions. Most likely, if you were able to cope with a stroke without loss, then you have a healthy body and brain. Experts note that young people in good physical shape are more likely to recover from a stroke with virtually no symptoms and disability.

Bad news

Тихий убийца: что такое немой инсульт и как его предотвратить

An asymptomatic stroke usually indicates that you have one or more risk factors. These include congenital risk factors (for example, cerebrovascular diseases, hypertension, blood clotting disorders) and lifestyle factors — that is, those that you can change or control. Managing risk factors through medication, diet, exercise, and stress control is important for your health.

It is important to understand that having one or more asymptomatic strokes in the past usually increases the risk of neurological symptoms if you have another stroke in the future. Repeated silent strokes can cause serious complications, such as Parkinson’s disease or vascular dementia, due to cumulative damage to several areas of the brain. The compensation provided by other parts of the brain will eventually run out if more tissue is damaged.

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