The symptoms of a stroke are sometimes obvious, like numbness or weakness on one side of the face, trouble speaking, difficulty walking, and vision problems. Some strokes, though, pass completely unnoticed. But even these can have a significant and lasting effect on memory, reports the June 2012 issue of the Harvard Women's Health Watch.
These so-called silent strokes create pinpoints of dead cells in the brain. The damaged areas are smaller than with a traditional stroke, and often don't affect areas of the brain associated with movement or speech.
During a typical ischemic stroke, a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that feeds part of the brain. Without a steady supply of blood, cells in that area malfunction and may die. Symptoms that appear reflect the functions that were controlled by the affected part of the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke caused by a burst blood vessel does the same thing.
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