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Silent Stroke is a Serious Problem that Can Lead to Death


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 Association."

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 blood pressure.

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 pain.

Listen to audio files for more details.

Edited by: Grow and translated by: Vannasone Keodara

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