Do Silent Strokes Cause Memory Loss?

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Are Silent Strokes a Precursor to Memory Loss?

By Glenn Krakow, 8:00 am on

Silent strokes are the most common type of stroke, but their lack of obvious symptoms mean they often go unnoticed. Like hemorrhagic strokes, ischemic strokes are caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. They are called “silent” because the affected areas don’t control any vital physical functions. A growing body of evidence, however, suggests silent strokes can lead to memory loss and impaired cognitive function.

How Prevalent Are Silent Strokes?

Researchers estimate that around 87 percent of the nearly 800,000 strokes that occur in the United States each year are silent strokes. After the age of 55, the risk of having a stroke doubles each decade. More than 75 percent of all strokes occur in adults over the age of 65.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study

In a study funded by the NIH, researchers administered MRI brain scans to more than 650 adults over the age of 65. None of the study’s participants had a history of memory loss or dementia. The MRI scans revealed around one quarter of the participants showed evidence of having experienced silent strokes, and the affected group also scored lower on memory and cognitive tests.

Silent Strokes and Alzheimer’s Disease

Multiple studies have established a connection between cardiovascular health and Alzheimer’s disease. While a direct correlation between silent strokes and Alzheimer’s remains elusive, the consensus is that taking steps to prevent strokes also reduces the risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Several stroke risk factors all El Dorado home care providers should be aware of include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking

Signs of memory loss in seniors should never be dismissed as a normal part of aging. Tests can help determine whether cognitive impairment is caused by silent strokes, and lifestyle changes and certain medications can significantly improve the cardiovascular and mental health of your elderly family member.

The days and months immediately following a stroke are most critical. If your loved one is ready to leave the hospital, El Dorado in-home stroke care can help ease the transition home and promote a safe and effective recovery. Our expertly trained caregivers can help with daily living tasks, pick up medications, provide transportation to appointments, and offer mobility assistance. To learn more, call (916) 358-3801 or (530) 409-4411 and speak with a knowledgeable Care Manager today.