5 risk factors for silent stroke

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity… are risk factors for strokes with no obvious symptoms.

A stroke (cerebrovascular accident) occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is reduced or interrupted. When a stroke occurs, the affected area cannot receive the blood, oxygen, and nutrients it needs, and brain cells die. Besides the strokes that cause distortion of the mouth, facial paralysis, difficulty speaking, difficulty moving… there are also silent strokes with no obvious symptoms. Although you may not be able to recognize symptoms, you can limit them by reducing your risk factors. Professor of Neurology Brett Cucchiara, Penn Medicine Hospital, USA, said that the common causes of stroke are treatable but people’s awareness about stroke risk factors is low. There are simple things people can do to greatly reduce their chances of experiencing this condition.

Obstruction of blood flow

The leading cause of silent stroke is when blood flow to the brain is interrupted and can happen repeatedly. This type of stroke can directly affect the part of the brain responsible for memory. Associate Professor Karen Furie (Massachusetts General Hospital, USA) added that the more brain damage or trauma a person has from a silent stroke, the harder it is for the brain to function properly.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is strongly associated with the risk of silent stroke. According to the American Stroke Association, high blood pressure puts extra workload on the heart, damaging arteries and organs over time. Compared with people with normal blood pressure, people with high blood pressure are more likely to have a stroke. Many strokes are caused by narrowed or blocked blood vessels in the brain that cut off blood flow to brain cells. High blood pressure also damages the inner lining of blood vessels, leading to narrowing of the arteries.

Image depicting blood cells in the blood vessel. Image: Freepik

High cholesterol

High cholesterol can lead to a silent stroke. Follow Harvard Health, high cholesterol levels form fatty plaques that reduce blood flow in the arteries – this hardening of the arteries can lead to stroke. If diet and exercise don’t lower your cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications, which can significantly limit your stroke.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is associated with increased levels of “bad” cholesterol and decreased levels of “good” cholesterol. This condition can also lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. If we absorb more cholesterol than the body uses, excess cholesterol can build up in the arteries, including the arteries of the brain.

Obesity is also strongly associated with metabolic diseases and cardiovascular disease. Many factors can contribute to heart failure, and obesity may be a contributing cause. High cholesterol, a heart disorder or diabetes… all increase the chances of a stroke.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, although a family history of stroke plays a role in increasing the risk, there are many preventable factors. People with high blood pressure and diabetes should control these conditions. Many people don’t realize they have high blood pressure and diabetes because they often don’t cause symptoms. Therefore, it is advisable to have regular health check-ups to monitor health status. If you are overweight, eat healthy and exercise regularly.

Unhealthy diet

A diet high in junk food, processed foods, and sugar can increase your risk of a silent stroke. Adopting a Mediterranean-style diet can help reduce this risk.

Kim Uyen
(Follow Eat This, Not That)


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