Ask the doctors
I've heard of silent heart attacks, but is it also possible to have a stroke and not know it?
A. Yes, it's possible. In fact, a statement issued by the American Stroke Association and American Heart Association estimated that as many as a quarter of octogenarians may have experienced one or more strokes without symptoms. These events are often detected only when a person undergoes brain imaging for another reason.
How is this possible? A silent stroke is most often caused by reduced blood flow in one of the smaller arteries that feed the brain. It can occur without noticeable symptoms if it affects a part of the brain that doesn't control major movements or vital functions. This means it won't produce traditional stroke symptoms such as weakness in your arm or leg or garbled speech. A silent stroke may also produce symptoms you mistakenly attribute to something else, such as garden-variety clumsiness or random memory lapses. Similar to reducing the chance of a major stroke, addressing cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, also lowers the risk of having silent strokes.
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