You might know that it’s possible to suffer a heart attack and have no idea until after the fact. “Silent” strokes are a reality, too.
The American Heart Association estimates that as many as a quarter of octogenarians (a person who is 80-89) may have had one or more strokes where they did not experience any noticeable symptoms.
The strokes are often learned about later during brain imaging for other reasons.
Silent strokes are often caused by low blood flow in one of the smallest arteries in the brain. They can occur without noticeable symptoms if it impacts a part of the brain that is not responsible for major movements or vital functions.
Instead of producing typical stroke symptoms like weakness or paralysis in the limbs or trouble speaking, it may, at most, lead to symptoms like regular clumsiness or random memory lapses, things that can easily be attributed to age or anything else.
That can be scary. Just because a silent stoke might not be noticeable, it may leave you at risk for a more significant episode with more severe consequences.
Preventing silent strokes is similar to what you would do to prevent a large stroke or heart attack. It includes having a heart-healthy strategy for living aimed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular episodes like heart attacks and strokes.
Using tools like diet, exercise, weight management, not smoking, and limiting alcohol can help lower cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Try to include as many fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains in your diet as possible. Also, try to feature lean proteins at least once or twice per day to help encourage nitrous oxide production that may enhance blood flow. Healthy fats, like omega-3’s, found in fish, and unsaturated fats from nuts, olive oil, and avocado, are helpful too.
Being aware of silent strokes and heart attacks can help with preventative measures.