Seeing the Silent Signs: How to know if you’re having a stroke – and what you should do about it

Many of us are aware of the obvious signs of a stroke, such as facial drooping caused by relaxed muscles. However, there can also be silent stroke symptoms, which can happen not just to seniors but also to younger adults. 

A stroke occurs when your brain does not receive the blood it requires. There are two main causes of stroke: a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or a blood vessel leaking or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). 

While it is entirely possible to have a stroke without even realizing it, the consequences of a stroke can have a significant impact on a person’s body, including permanent damage to the brain, and even death.

The Silent Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Those who are unaware that they have had a stroke may go longer without being treated for stroke prevention. Unlike a heart attack, which may cause obvious signs of discomfort or pain, a silent stroke may cause the following symptoms:

  • Speech and cognitive problems. You may become confused, slur your words, or have difficulty understanding speech.
  • Numbness or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg. You could experience sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg. This usually only affects one side of the body. 
  • Vision problems. You may experience blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes, as well as seeing double.
  • Headache. A sudden, severe headache, possibly accompanied by vomiting, dizziness, or altered consciousness, may indicate a stroke.
  • Walking and balancing difficulties. You might trip or lose your balance. You could also experience dizziness or loss of coordination.

B.E. F.A.S.T. – What to Do if You’re Experiencing a Stroke

Stroke Awareness uses the acronym “B.E.F.A.S.T.” to help you remember some of the signs of a stroke. These letters stand for the following:

  • Balance. Stand or walk a few steps to regain balance. If you’re having trouble, you could be having a stroke.
  • Eyesight loss: Read a clock, a word, or a sentence. If you are unable to do so, you are likely suffering from vision loss and possibly a stroke.
  • Face dropping. If your face is drooping, try to smile. You may be having a stroke if one side of their face appears to droop or feels numb.
  • Arm weakness. If you’re experiencing arm weakness, raise both arms above your heads. If you are having difficulty or one arm appears to droop, this is a strong indication of a stroke.
  • Speech difficulty: Repeat a simple sentence, such as your name or a weather comment. When you have a stroke, you may have difficulty repeating or remembering words, and  speech may be slurred and nonsensical.
  • Time to Call 911. If you’re having difficulties completing any of these tests or are experiencing any of these symptoms or other unusual signs, immediately call the emergency. 

The Steps to Save Yourself from Stroke

Strokes, along with heart attacks, frequently occur together because both can be caused by blockages or buildup around their respective major organs, the heart and brain. Although strokes are more common in people over the age of 65, especially those with pre-existing heart disease, preventive health care should begin in a person’s youth.

Individuals can avoid silent stroke symptoms by exercising 3-5 times per week, eating a balanced diet, controlling high blood pressure with yoga or other forms of meditation, quitting smoking, limiting sugar intake, and limiting alcohol and salt intake.

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