Stroke: ‘Subtle’ signs of a ‘silent’ stroke – ‘warning signs’ may not be ‘obvious’

Fitness & Health:

There are around 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK, and your symptoms will depend on the part of your brain affected and the extent of the damage. The Stroke Association warns that the catastrophic event occurs every five minutes in the UK, but the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says that silent strokes are undetected strokes.

It explains: “They occur when a blood vessel blockage in the brain causes cells to die, but no warning signs or symptoms are obvious.”

The organisation notes that experts estimate that 10 silent strokes occur for every stroke with detectable symptoms.


Nonetheless, it suggests that there are some very subtle signs of these strokes.

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The AHA says: “Despite being called ‘silent’, these infarcts have been linked to subtle problems in a person’s movement and mental processing. They also are linked to future risk for stroke and dementia.”

The NHS says that the main stroke symptoms include changes to the face. Your face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.

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Signs may also occur on the arms – “the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm”, says the NHS.

Their speech may be slurred or garbled, “or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake” and “they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them”, adds the health body.


In general, healthy lifestyle recommendations include controlling high blood pressure, and healthy lifestyle changes and medications are often used to treat high blood pressure.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) says anxiety, depression, and high stress levels are all risk factors.

It adds: “Working long hours and not having much contact with friends, family, or others outside the home are also linked with higher risk of stroke.”

There are also a number of risk factors, including unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as eating unhealthy foods, not getting regular physical activity, drinking alcohol, and using illegal drugs such as cocaine.

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