As one of the top 5 leading causes of death in the U.S., most individuals are aware of the major symptoms of strokes and know to immediately call for assistance if they experience them. What happens, though, if you aren’t aware that you’ve had a stroke? Can you have a stroke and not know it? The answer to this question, surprisingly, is yes! Silent strokes, or strokes where you have no apparent symptoms at all, are more common than you might think, with approximately one-third of individuals aged 70+ having at least one silent stroke. So, if you don’t experience symptoms, how do you know if you’ve had a silent stroke? Read on to find out!
How to Know if You’ve Had a Silent Stroke
Like regular strokes, silent strokes occur due to a disruption of blood flow to your brain. However, when it comes to a silent stroke, symptoms are not apparent because the disruption of blood flow is to a part of your brain that doesn’t control visible movements or bodily functions, like moving or speaking. You may be completely unaware that you’ve even had a silent stroke!
Wondering how to tell if you had a stroke in the past or how to tell if you had a stroke in your sleep? Unfortunately, most people don’t actually find out they’ve suffered from a silent stroke until they see a doctor for another condition and are ordered to have an MRI or a CT scan. At that point, their doctor may notice small areas of damage in the brain indicating a silent stroke. This damage can appear in the form of white spots or lesions where the functioning of brain cells has decreased or stopped entirely.
What about your elderly loved ones? Are you concerned they might have had a silent stroke, or left wondering what are the signs of a stroke in the elderly? Your concern may not be misplaced, as according to one study, approximately 10% of middle-aged individuals with no apparent signs of having had a stroke displayed brain damage from a silent stroke.
Although silent strokes typically only affect small portions of the brain that aren’t responsible for visible motor functions, the resulting damage is cumulative and, if you or your loved one has suffered from several silent strokes, you might begin to notice neurological symptoms that are similar to those of an ischemic stroke. If you don’t notice any of the major symptoms of stroke – muscle numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble with language; sudden loss of coordination – you might keep an eye out for some of the more subtle signs of a stroke, such as minor balance problems and frequent falls, a decreased ability to think, or even changes in mood, though silent stroke personality changes are likely less apparent than those that follow an ischemic stroke.
Partner with Windsor Estates for Stroke Prevention and Rehabilitation
When it comes to extending your life expectancy after stroke, elderly patients who are discovered to have had a silent stroke are encouraged to take action to prevent future silent strokes as having a silent stroke can increase your risk for having an ischemic, or symptomatic, stroke in the future. Additionally, having multiple silent strokes can increase your risk of having dementia.
Preventing future strokes – both silent and symptomatic – involves making lifestyle changes to become healthier, including:
- Lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Exercising and managing your weight
- Cutting down on sodium intake and diet drinks, which can raise the risk for both stroke and dementia
- Quitting smoking
- Eating vegetables
- Managing your diabetes, if applicable
Not sure where to get started when it comes to these silent stroke prevention methods? Need a partner you can trust to help you get on the right track? Windsor Estates of St. Charles can help.
At Windsor Estates, your health and wellness is our top priority. From independent living, assisted living and memory care to rehabilitation and wellness programs, our continuing care community has it all. And, you won’t pay a major upfront entrance fee to get it!
Contact us today for more information about how our senior living community can help you continue to live the life you love as independently as possible. We look forward to answering your questions!