What is a silent stroke?

A Answers (15)

  • Silent strokes are when you have evidence of a prior stroke, usually detected on an MRI or CT scan, but you do not recall ever having symptoms. Silent strokes are very common but often can be confusing for patients because they are used to hearing about strokes in terms of the neurologic issues they cause. The main difference between silent strokes and strokes that cause noticeable symptoms is location. There are some areas of the brain that provide obvious issues like paralysis when they are damaged. Damage to other parts of the brain may produce no warning signs at all or may produce signs that are very subtle (i.e. difficulty thinking). I usually avoid using the term stroke when referring to these types of lesions because it can be confusing both to doctors and patients. Another reason I do this is because most research studies do not lump clinical strokes that cause symptoms together with these silent lesions, so it is not clear if they’re the exact same thing.
  • A Emergency Medicine, answered on behalf of
    A silent stroke is a stroke that occurs in a part of the brain that does not cause any symptoms or physical limitations. A silent stroke is usually found incidentally when doing computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain for another reason. 
  • A Neurology, answered on behalf of
    A silent stroke is a stroke with no or mild symptoms. Very frequently when you do a brain scan, especially on older people, you see evidence of prior strokes on that scan. The issue is, what does silent mean in the context of an old and undiagnosed stroke? Is it that the patient felt something but brushed it off, or was it truly silent with no symptoms at all? In reality, for a lot of so-called silent strokes, we usually think the stroke had minor symptoms and the patient brushed it off. Occasionally a stroke doesn’t cause symptoms at all, however.
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  • A silent stroke is a stroke that occurs in a part of the brain where there are no immediately apparent symptoms. Different parts of the brain control different functions, and the symptoms of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that is damaged by the stroke. For example, a stroke involving the left frontal lobe would cause language problems because this part of the brain specializes in expression of language. Some parts of the brain are relatively “silent,” or strokes in these parts cause subtle problems that may not be picked up immediately. A buildup of “silent” strokes over time has an effect on cognition and function, so no stroke is exactly “silent.”
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  • A silent stroke occurs in the parts of the brain that do not control speech, motor functions or the senses.
    Since silent strokes do not have any of the regular signs, they are often discovered incidentally. For example, you might have a severe headache, and the doctor will take some images of your brain using a CT scan or MRI. If you’ve had a silent stroke, these images may show evidence of a brain insult or scar tissue. The doctor will probably ask you if you’ve had any stroke symptoms such as weakness, numbness, tingling, inability to speak, inability to see and if the symptoms were transient, but you may not remember having any of the symptoms.  
    Luckily, the quality of imaging we have these days shows tiny things that we couldn’t see 10 years ago. 
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  • A Neurology, answered on behalf of

    In silent strokes, brain injury occurs from blockage or rupture of a blood vessel, but does not cause major, immediate symptoms, such as sudden weakness on one side of the body or sudden trouble speaking. The absence of typical immediate stroke symptoms is because the amount of brain injury is small and located in a less critical brain region. However, although a single small stroke may be “silent,” multiple such strokes can add up to cause substantial brain injury and contribute to problems in thinking (dementia), walking difficulty, and other chronic brain symptoms.

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  • A Geriatric Medicine, answered on behalf of
    Silent strokes are small vascular events in the brain -- such as a brief interruption of blood flow to an area of brain tissue -- that cause lasting damage. However, unlike a stroke that is accompanied by symptoms such as acute weakness, numbness or language difficulties, you may never know you had a silent stroke until you get a brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which will show areas affected by the cerebrovascular event.

    Silent strokes may cause subtle changes in cognitive function and can have a profound impact on your future health. Silent strokes have been associated with dementia, impaired mobility and falls, and they raise the risk for a full stroke.
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  • A Neurology, answered on behalf of
    A silent stroke is when a patient experiences a stroke, but has no obvious symptoms. Imaging studies of the brain show where the injury occurred, but the patient has no recollection of symptoms. This information is important, because once you experience a stroke it is important for you to have a thorough evaluation to identify potential causes and prevent further strokes.
  • A Neurology, answered on behalf of
    What is a silent stroke?
    A silent stroke is a stroke that doesn’t produce symptoms. Neurologist Raul Guisado, MD, of Regional Medical Center of San Jose, explains what happens to your brain when you have a lot of silent strokes. 
  • What Is a Silent Stroke?
    Silent strokes are stroke-like findings in an MRI scan without symptoms, says Phaniraj Iyengar, MD, a vascular neurologist at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he says that numerous silent strokes may create higher risk for damage after a major stroke.
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  • Silent strokes are actual strokes, but they may not result in noticeable symptoms. Studies show that millions of Americans each year who thought they were healthy have silent strokes, and don’t have the classic symptoms, such as dizziness, numbness on one side or slurred speech.
    However, these strokes can lead to memory loss or other health issues over time. And they could be a signal that a full-blown stroke is more likely.

    Routine brain scans can detect a history of silent strokes, but doctors would have to be looking for them.  Strokes can be prevented by keeping blood pressure under control, lowering cholesterol, preventing or treating diabetes, and not smoking.
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  • A stroke often becomes apparent when a person suddenly develops slurred speech or loses sensation or the ability to move on one side of the body, either partially or completely. However, strokes can affect parts of the brain that control other parts of the mind/body's functioning, such that the changes are not so obvious. Such strokes are sometimes called "silent." These strokes may affect one's mood or ability to think or communicate clearly, and may go unnoticed. It is very common for elderly people who have an MRI of the brain for other reasons to show evidence of having had a stroke that they were completely unaware of. This means that strokes are far more common than many of us realize, and this should make us place even more value on stroke prevention.
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  • It is possible to have a stroke and not know it. This is referred to as a silent stroke. An MRI taken for some unrelated purpose may show lesions on your brain. Those lesions are evidence of damage to the brain tissue caused by a stroke. At that point, you cannot repair the damage, but it is important to know that you are at greater risk for stroke then you may have realized. Talk with your doctor about what you can do to reduce your risk of having another stroke in the future.
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  • A Diagnostic Radiology, answered on behalf of
    A silent stroke is a stroke that does not produce any symptoms. Sometimes a person with have a brain scan which shows an old stroke but the person never had any symptoms. This may indicate that the person is at risk for future vascular events such as stroke or heart attack.
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  • A , Psychology, answered
    Silent strokes have the following characteristics:
    • Silent strokes have no visible or outwardly identifiable symptoms.
    • In most cases, people who suffer a silent stroke don't even know they've had a stroke.
    • Silent strokes are referred to as "silent" because they do not present the outward physical symptoms that are typically associated with stroke, including slurred speech, paralysis, and severe pain.
    • Silent strokes are a serious health concern, however -- they cause permanent damage to the brain, most often in the regions of the brain that govern mood, thought, cognition and memory.
    • Silent strokes are themselves a risk factor for other types of stroke, including major stroke.
    7 people found this helpful.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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