Stroke is a serious problem that can lead to death. Usually the warning
signs appear suddenly. But a recent study found that seemingly healthy
middle-aged people could suffer a stroke without immediately knowing
it. The finding was reported in "Stroke: Journal of the American Heart
The study involved about two thousand people. They were the children of
men and women who took part in the Framingham Heart Study. The
Framingham Heart Study began sixty years ago in Framingham, a town in
the American state of Massachusetts. Much of what doctors know about
heart disease has resulted from this research project.
The average age of men and women in the new study was sixty-two years.
The group's members received medical examinations every four to eight
years. They were given magnetic resonance imaging tests to inspect for
damaged brain tissue and signs of stroke.
The imaging tests showed that nearly eleven percent of those with no
sign of stroke had suffered a silent cerebral infarction, or silent
stroke. Silent strokes are brain injuries likely caused by a blockage
that limits blood to the brain.
Eighty-four percent of those who suffered silent strokes had a single
wound, or lesion, in the brain. This kind of damage can lead to
increased risk of future strokes and long-term memory loss.
For the first time, the researchers found a link between silent stroke
and the condition of unusual heartbeat in older adults.
Sudha Seshadri works at the Boston University School of Medicine. She
says atrial fibrillation increased the risk of suffering a stroke more
than two times. High blood pressure and systolic blood pressure were
also linked to an increased risk of silent stroke. Blood pressure
readings are usually given in two numbers. The upper number is systolic
Doctor Seshadri says the findings show the need for early testing and
treatment of conditions that could lead to heart disease in middle-aged
people. Experts say nothing special needs to be done to reduce the risk
of silent stroke. But they are urging people to watch for risk factors.
They include atrial fibrilation, high blood pressure, heart disease,
diabetes and cigarette smoking.
The American Stroke Association says people who think they are having a
stroke should seek emergency medical help. The warning signs include
sudden weakness, especially on one side of the body, and difficulty
speaking or understanding. Other warning signs are trouble seeing in
one or both eyes, trouble walking, loss of balance and severe head
Listen to audio files for more details.
Edited by: Grow and translated by: Vannasone Keodara