In the United States, approximately eleven million people suffer from a silent lacunar infarction every year. This type of stroke occurs much more often than previously thought and is solely responsible for about 25 percent of all strokes. It appears to affect more men than women, but can affect anyone at any time. Although it offers sufferers a greater chance of survival after thirty days than other stroke types, it sometimes goes undiagnosed with recurrence likely.
A silent lacunar infarction occurs when small arteries in the brain become blocked and deprived of oxygen. Significant damage can occur to certain brain cells and leads to the death of some brain tissue. The blockage of an artery in the brain can result from a blood vessel rupture and subsequent bleeding into brain tissues. High blood pressure or chronic hypertension are thought to be the most common factor leading to this condition, but other risk factors include advanced age, some forms of diabetes and smoking.
Because there are no immediate classic stroke symptoms present with this type of stroke, many individuals who suffer one may be unaware that it has occurred. The damage caused by one of the strokes is visible with neuroimaging techniques. An MRI or CAT scan can detect lesions in the tissue surrounding the brain.
Even though no immediate debilitating symptoms may be present with a silent stroke, many individuals have reported various changes in cognitive ability and personality traits. Caregivers of victims of silent lacunar infarction report that memory loss or impaired judgment may result as well as severe emotional disorders. Although this stroke may not produce any classic stroke symptoms and patients are unaware that it has happened, the brain is damaged. This opens the door for more possible strokes in the future.
Some symptoms that usually accompany even a silent stroke may include extreme weakness of the legs or arms. Paralysis of the face or limbs is also a possibility. Problems with speech may occur with the loss of the ability to control the tongue or other muscles in the mouth. Speech and even swallowing may be affected in some cases.
It is not uncommon for victims to suffer from lack of coordination hours or even days following the stroke. A noticeable awkward walk may result in addition to dizziness and problems with balance. Fine motor skills associated with holding and using a pencil may be affected as well due to a lack of coordination.
Increasing awareness of the risk factors associated with having a silent stroke may help eliminate another one from occurring. Exercise and good nutrition are key factors in maintaining good health. Staying active mentally and physically are good preventive measures to help deter the possibility of any type of stroke or related medical condition.