Stroke Awareness: What to Know about Mini and Silent Strokes

May is National Stroke Awareness month! Strokes are Minnesota’s 6th leading cause of death. Windom Area Health is an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital and is prepared to provide the best possible stroke care for our community.  Remember to BE FAST because time lost is brain lost.  On average, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated.  These cells will not recover.  With a stroke, calling 911 can save your life.  Several symptoms can signal a stroke.  BE FAST stands for B = Balance  E = eyes  F = Face Drooping  A = Arm Weakness  S = Speech Difficulty  T = Time to call 911.  Other symptoms can be indicative of a stroke such as numbness or weakness, especially on one side of your body, confusion, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, and a severe headache with no known cause. 

What happens if your symptoms disappear?  You may have experienced a TIA.  Transient ischemic attacks, or TIA’s, also called mini strokes occur before about 15% of strokes and are associated with experiencing additional TIAs, full-blown strokes or other cardiovascular problems within just days or weeks of the TIA, so early interventions to reduce your risk are vital.  Even if your symptoms disappear, please seek emergency care.  Doing so will ensure you receive proper care to take steps to prevent further or greater damage.

Silent strokes are undetected strokes. About one-fourth of people over age 80 have at least one such area of tissue death, known as a “silent infarct,” in the brain. The condition is more common with increasing age and in people who smoke or have a history of vascular disease (conditions that affect your blood vessels). Despite being called “silent,” these infarcts have been linked to subtle problems in a person’s movement and mental processing.  These are also linked to future risk for stroke and dementia.  If you have symptoms, even subtle symptoms, please do not ignore them!  Silent infarcts can be seen in patients through advanced brain imaging techniques such as MRI and CT.  Once identified, treatment and preventative care can help optimize your life!

Remember to BE FAST and seek care quickly for any sign or symptom of a stroke.  Strokes cause irreversible brain damage.  The quicker you receive care, the less brain damage you will potentially have.

By Katie Bennett, Emergency Department Trauma/Stroke Coordinator

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