What is silent stroke

Silent stroke: normal, but not harmless

Like all cells in the body, the nerve cells in the brain are supplied with nutrients by blood vessels. If this life-sustaining current is cut off, for example by a clot that clogs the blood vessel, the brain cells die after a short time. Doctors call this a stroke. In principle, the same thing happens with a silent stroke - with the difference that the circulatory disorder hits a "less conspicuous" area. "Not all areas of the brain have a function to the same extent," explains Professor Dr. Martin Grond from Siegen. He is a member of the board of the German Stroke Society. "A stroke can occur in an area that is not responsible for movement or language. Then none of the typical symptoms occur."

Examine apparently healthy people as well

"Whether the stroke causes symptoms is really a coincidence - depending on where it hits," says Grond. "But after every stroke, whether silent or not, the risk of suffering from such a circulatory disorder again increases." Around one in ten of the 60-year-olds shows signs of a silent stroke. "In the 70-year-olds it is almost one in five," reports the neurologist. Grond advocates testing apparently healthy people in this age group for high blood pressure, elevated blood lipid levels or atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, in particular, is increasingly coming into focus as a cause: Normally, the atrium contracts and squeezes out the blood. With atrial fibrillation, he shakes the blood like a cocktail mixer. Grond: "Small clots form. These tiny lumps get into the brain with the bloodstream and can get stuck there in a thin vessel." Anyone who feels a racing heart, be it permanently or only in short episodes, should definitely have it clarified.

The mental faculties suffer

It is now known that after several silent strokes, the quality of mental abilities suffers. Grond: "It may be that the brain slows down and a form of dementia develops, even if there is no specific disorder." Changes would be set in motion that roughly correspond to those of Alzheimer's dementia. In order to avoid these serious consequences of vascular diseases, according to Grond, it is important to be sensitive to the classic risk factors of high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol and lack of exercise. "Anyone who has their blood pressure measured in the pharmacy and notices unusual values ​​should take care of it right away. The same applies to a racing heart."

Pharmacist Rüdiger Freund