When we think of strokes, we often think of symptoms such as slurred speech, numbness, or loss of movement in the face or body. But, silent strokes do not show any such symptoms. In fact, silent strokes show no symptoms at all.
Dr Saleh bin Saif al Hinai, Senior Consultant, Family Medicine, clarified that silent strokes occur when the blood supply to a part of the brain is suddenly cut off, depriving it of oxygen and damaging its cells.
“Silent stroke is difficult to recognise, because it disrupts the blood supply to a part of the brain that does not control any visual functions such as speaking or movement, so you may never know that a stroke has occurred’’, he said, noting that the way most people discover they have had a silent stroke is when they undergo an MRI or CT scan for another condition where doctors notice that small areas of the brain have been damaged.
Does it mean it is less dangerous? Dr al Hinai mentioned that silent strokes generally only affect a small area of the brain, but the damage is cumulative. He said, “If the patient has several silent strokes, he may begin to notice neurological symptoms. For example, he may begin to have difficulty remembering things, or he may have difficulty concentrating”.
However, silent stroke may be caused due to blood clots, high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries, high fat and diabetes. Because the effects are cumulative, the damage result is permanent.
Dr Al Hinai explained there are other types of strokes like temporary strokes. They may occur due to the same reasons, yet, they are symptomatic. The one may have trouble walking, blindness in one eye, sudden and severe headache, dizziness, and confusion. The symptoms appear within 24 hours, and such strokes lead to severe ones in future.
The permanent stroke’s symptoms last for more than 24 hours, and they include weakness in the arms, legs, or face, speech difficulties, trouble walking, blindness in one eye or field of vision, sudden severe headache, and dizziness.
Dr Al Hinai elaborated that “other signs of strokes are so subtle that they are similar to signs of ageing, such as balance problems, frequent falls, urinary incontinence, mood changes, decreased ability to think”.
Regarding the possibility of the treatment of cognitive problems, Dr Al Hinai confirmed that rehabilitation therapy could help people who have lost some of their abilities due to a stroke. Among the professionals who can help restore function include natural therapy, speech pathologists, sociologists, psychologists.
To help prevent silent strokes, the doctor advised controlling blood pressure, regular exercise, reducing salt, controlling cholesterol level and diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating vegetables and fruits.