What is a Silent Stroke? - Symptoms

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Can something so obvious as a stroke be silent? Even more, what is a silent stroke anyways? Find out what this is, how common it is, and what it causes.

The Most Common Form of Stroke

What is the most common form of stroke? Is it:

A. A stroke with many obvious signs and symptoms
B. A stroke with just a few obvious signs and symptoms
C. A stroke with no obvious signs or symptoms

Well, you're about to find out as we explore the important basics behind a silent stroke and its symptoms.

What Is a Silent Stroke?

So, what did you answer up above? If you chose answer A, congratulations! Wait, nope, that's the wrong answer actually. The real answer is C. The most common form of stroke is a stroke with no obvious signs or symptoms. You may be wondering why we're covering the symptoms of a silent stroke in this lesson then, but we'll get to that in a bit.

A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, is just a word for the:

  • Damage to and death of a local section of brain tissue
  • Result of an inadequate supply of oxygenated blood

We tend to think of a stroke as this big event that is really obvious. You know, someone is sitting at the table having dinner with you, and, all of a sudden see, you that their face become droopy, their speech becomes slurred, they can't swallow what they're eating, and they have weakness in one arm. Those are the stereotypical signs of the stereotypical stroke. That is to say, it's the obvious kind of stroke.

In this image, you can see how a stroke has damaged the brain. However, this image shows a large area of the brain being affected. In a silent stroke, the area would be far smaller than this.

Silent Stroke Symptoms

But as you've just learned, the most common type of stroke is a silent stroke, a stroke with no obvious signs or symptoms. How could that be, though? Well, sometimes the area of the brain that is damaged during a stroke is not as critical to the function of the body as another area. What's more, the area that is damaged during a silent stroke is also very small compared to the area damaged during a traditional stroke, the one we think of as causing all the obvious signs and symptoms we just discussed.

The key thing you must understand is that in a silent stroke a small area that is not significant to the function of the body is damaged. This doesn't mean this area is completely insignificant, though. It's just not significant towards the manifestation of the obvious signs of stroke: the function of the arms, muscles involved in speaking or swallowing, vision, and so on.

This also doesn't mean nothing is damaged during a silent stroke. The areas that are damaged during a silent stroke tend to have a long lasting impact on memory, something harder to spot. The other problem is that this damage often adds up. In other words, people typically experience more than one 'silent' stroke in their life. Over time, this causes greater and greater cognitive decline, such as problems with memory.

Lesson Summary

So, what you must gather from this entire lesson is that a silent stroke causes no obvious signs or symptoms but that doesn't mean it has no signs or symptoms at all!

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