World Stroke Day 2018: What is a 'Silent' Stroke? Know Its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Preventive Measures
What is a 'Silent' Stroke? (Photo Credits: Pixabay)

A Stroke, as per recent data, is the leading cause of disability and the 3rd leading cause of death, especially amongst the elderly in India. A Stroke is an obstruction of blood supply to the Brain due to a blocked blood vessel or a ruptured blood vessel. Sometimes Strokes occurs without the person even realising it or remains asymptomatic, this is also known as 'Silent Strokes'. Mobile Application to Reduce Stroke: Scientists Develop Life Saving Application.

The prevalence of a stroke has increased by over 50% in the past 2 decades in India. The contribution of this disease to total deaths and disease burden in the country has almost doubled in the past 25yrs. The risk of a Stroke is the same for men and women until the age of 50yrs, post which, women are at higher risk of suffering a Stroke. Preventing Stroke Is Possible If You Quit Smoking, Eat Healthy and Have a Healthy Lifestyle. 

According to Dr Kaustubh Mahajan, Neurologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, here are some early signs of a Stroke that should not be ignored-

  •  Unexplained severe headaches
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms, face, or leg, usually on just one side
  • Difficulty seeing with one or both Eyes
  • Difficulty in staying or walking in a coordinated or balanced manner
  • Drooping on one side of the face
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Confusion or loss of memory
  • Loss of sensation in any part of the body
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Behavioural changes

Transient Ischemic Attacks(TIAs) are mini Strokes that occur just before a major Stroke; they are also called ‘Warning Strokes’ and carry a significant risk for the patient. Most patients who have TIAs are highly prone to getting a major Stroke if not treated immediately. A Stroke can be easily diagnosed through a physical examination, medical tests, MRI, Echocardiography or Angiography. Depending on the diagnosis of the patient’s condition, a treatment plan is prescribed by the doctor.

Treatment:

  • The patient can be started on regular medication, depending on the location, cause, type and severity of the stroke/attack
  • In case the patient requires surgery, a Carotid Endarterectomy for people with a narrow Carotid Artery in the neck, can help in clearing the artery of any fatty deposits before another Stroke
  • Additionally, a Carotid Angioplasty or Stenting is also an alternative treatment option which might help to prevent a major Stroke

Prevention: Due to the gradual rise in the Stroke risks in a country like ours, it is essential to create awareness on the fact that Stroke is treatable and preventable. It is extremely easy to cut down on the risk of a Stroke by making a few lifestyle changes

  • Eating a healthy diet: avoid high Cholesterol foods and consume sufficient amounts of vegetables
  • Regular exercise: Ideally 30mins daily
  • Weight management is of utmost importance
  • Avoid intake of alcohol and smoking, it can help prevent a Stroke
  • Keep your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol under control

Silent Strokes have the potential to cause permanent damage to the Brain; they are usually missed as their symptoms are usually difficult to recognize. It is noted that, individuals over the age of 60yrs and those with High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, high Cholesterol and those on oral contraceptives are at a high risk of experiencing a Silent Stroke.

(Inputs by Dr Kaustubh Mahajan, Neurologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim- A Fortis Associate)