10 Signs and Symptoms of a Mild Stroke: Are You Suffering Without Realizing It?
You’re probably familiar with common stroke symptoms — difficulty speaking, seeing, walking, and numbness on one side of the body. These are all obvious signs, enabling you to quickly get the help you need.
However, it’s possible to have a stroke and not even know it or remember it happening. Silent cerebral infarction (SCI) and Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a “mild stroke” that causes brain damage and can to a more severe stroke down the road, possibly within the next year.
Mild strokes (also called “silent strokes” or “mini strokes”) are much more common than other recognizable types of strokes. The Rotterdam Scan Study found that 25% of brain scans done on 1,077 elderly patients had signs of a stroke, with 80% of those patients not knowing they had suffered one.
In population-based studies, silent stroke symptoms (silent brain infarcts) on MRIs have shown the following prevalence:
- 8% to 31% for white, Black, and Japanese populations
- 10.7% to 84% for those aged 53–71 years
- An increased risk for men and younger Black populations
Canadian researchers have discovered that mild strokes are “common in seniors after they have elective, non-cardiac surgery” which leads to a doubled “risk of cognitive decline one year later.”
How a Mild Stroke Differs
Just as with other types of strokes, a mild stroke occurs when the blood supply is cut off to part of your brain. The difference is that the part of your brain affected by a mild stroke is too small to hamper the control of your vital brain functions, so symptoms may go unnoticed or be blamed on other health or mental conditions.
Most people won’t positively know that they’ve had a mild stroke without an MRI or CT scan picking up on affected small blood vessels, changes in white matter, or lesions.
Still, the signs and symptoms of a mild stroke shouldn’t be ignored.
A mild stroke does kill brain cells and tissue and should be caught in order to treat symptoms and prevent another stroke from taking place. It’s not uncommon to suffer several mild strokes before noticing a cumulative neurological effect, even vascular (post-stroke) dementia. In fact, up to one-third of those who suffer from a stroke develop dementia within six months.
The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi urges residents to look for mini stroke warning signals.
Why? Because “while the global average age of a stroke victim is over 65, the average age in the UAE is younger due to the high prevalence of risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Half of all stroke patients in the country are under the age of 45.”
So, what are the signs and symptoms of a mild stroke? Here’s what might tip you off to the root cause of your symptoms.
The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of a Mild Stroke
Up to 50% of stroke survivors suffer from motor dysfunction or brain impairment. Here are 10 signs of a mini stroke you or a loved one may experience suddenly but mildly, and which may last a couple of hours, a few days, or long-term:
- A lapse in or loss of short-term memory: Do you have to ask someone to repeat instructions they just told you but still remember details from a conversation you had last month? Is there a day or activity you had recently that you simply don’t remember, even with prompts?
- A decreased ability to think or reason: Have you given up on a game you used to love playing, like Sudoku or crossword puzzles? Do you find yourself frustrated or arguing more because you don’t understand someone else’s reasons for wanting you to do something?
- Mood changes: Are you suddenly irritable, anxious, apathetic, or depressed? Have you found yourself crying or laughing for no obvious reason or at inappropriate times?
- Psychiatric disorders: Do you have hallucinations or delusions? Have you found yourself engaging in inappropriate motor behavior, like nibbling food at the dinner table or repeatedly banging your head?
- Trouble with balance: Are you experiencing dizziness or feeling like your head is spinning? Is it difficult to make quick adjustments to maintain balance? Do you find yourself stumbling or bumping into things? Does it feel like you’re standing upright when in fact, you’re leaning to one side?
- Movement or walking impairment: Are your toes now catching on the ground when you take steps? Do you tire easily just from walking to your neighbor’s house? Is walking and talking at the same time difficult for you?
- Limb clumsiness: Does it take concentration to control your hand motions? Is it tricky to type even though you’re normally very proficient? Do you have a shaky leg? Are you noticing a decrease in hand-eye coordination?
- Incontinence: Do you feel the urge to urinate more often than usual? Are you consciously or unconsciously leaking urine or stool during the day or while asleep at night? Is it difficult to empty your bladder completely?
- Headaches or migraines: Are you having more headaches or migraines than usual? Or are you getting long-term, persistent headaches? Have your headaches become severe enough to disrupt your daily activities?
- Vision issues: Does seeing things clearly take concentration? Are you less aware of your surroundings? Are you having double vision? Has your field of vision reduced?
It’s important to note that these symptoms of mild stroke may also be signs of other medical conditions, so it’s important to speak with your doctor about your concerns and treatment options.
Stop Suffering in Silence: Schedule a Consultation
The truth is, there is no such thing as a mild stroke, as their symptoms are real and can have long-lasting, significant effects on your body and life.
Don’t suffer in silence. If you or a family member are showing signs of a mild stroke, there is hope. A customized post-stroke recovery medical program utilizing advanced HBOT techniques helps heal the brain and body, leading to a remarkable recovery and lowered risk of suffering a serious stroke in the future.
Schedule a complimentary consultation with a doctor at Aviv Clinics brought to you by DP World or take a tour of our specialty clinic and get your advanced brain imaging scans to check for symptoms of a silent stroke.
Rehabilitation Options, Including Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), for Stroke Patients
Strokes are “a leading cause of serious long-term disability” in the United States. Given that “87% of all strokes are ischemic” or caused by artery or vein blockage, it makes sense that most patients suffer long-term functional impairments.
These impairments can range from paralysis, speech difficulties, and sensory issues to a host of other cognitive dysfunctions. Additionally, many stroke patients have had a stroke before—“nearly 1 in 4” survivors have suffered at least one stroke previously.
Rest assured, multiple rehabilitation options are available for stroke patients, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). We dive into the key details below.
Remember that each person’s medical condition and background are entirely unique. Thus, speaking with a physician about treatment options is essential to getting back to optimal health.
What Are the 3 Common Stroke Relief Options?
Stroke relief generally entails working with a diverse medical team of physicians, nurses, and therapists. This support team may recommend one or more of the following options:
- Speech therapy: Stroke patients can experience speech challenges, ranging from slurred world to significant difficulties with oral communication or understanding people (aphasia). This is due to damage to the “left side of the brain that controls speech and language.” Cases like this often merit speech therapy.
Patients work with speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to relearn techniques such as:
- Controlling mouth and throat muscles to speak more clearly and adequately swallow
- Participating in cognitive language exercises to restore communication and comprehension skills
Research illustrates early speech intervention with aphasia patients “had a massive increase in their ability to communicate at 12 and 26 weeks after their stroke.” Patients could speak better and exhibited less difficulty finding and using the right words.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist (PT) engages patients in movement exercises to help them reacquire motor skills. PTs generally help stroke patients relearn activities such as walking, sitting, standing, and switching from one movement to another.
Medical experts believe consistent PT lowers “risks of hospital readmission within a month after discharge” because it helps patients:
- Restore movement and accomplish tasks
- Plan for the next step of post-acute care (e.g., patient rehab facility, skilled nursing facility, or home care assistance)
- Occupational therapy: Occupational therapists help patients carry out everyday activities. They aim to help stroke patients live as independently as they can. OTs work with post-stroke patients to assess how the stroke has affected their lifestyle.
For those who have difficulties dressing, cooking, or bathing, the OT will find solutions to help carry out these activities of daily living to the best of their ability. These statistics outline the importance of OT in the recovery process.
- One study of Medicare claims data found that “Rehabilitation services including physical therapy and occupational therapy play important roles in promoting functional recovery and preventing deconditioning during acute hospitalizations.” However, “Only 61% of patients with ischemic stroke received both physical therapy and occupational therapy services in the acute setting.”
One study notes that patients who participated in OT programs focused on impairment and basic living activities “progressed to more advanced activities over time (e.g., less bed mobility, more home management).”
The Groundbreaking Therapeutic Approach of HBOT
An up-and-coming therapy for long-term stroke recovery that has shown promise in clinical research is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). HBOT has clear indications of brain-cell rehabilitation in patients suffering from post-stroke disabilities.
HBOT and its apparent benefits for post-stroke patients were studied and reviewed in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One:
- The participants were exposed to a unique protocol, including daily HBOT sessions over two months. All the patients showed improved neurological functioning, indicating “that HBOT can lead to significant neurological improvements in post stroke patients even at chronic late stages.”
- Noticeable recovery included “regained speech (almost fluent) and reading capabilities.” Even in patients with less dramatic results, everyday tasks like bathing and dressing became possible unaided by the end of the treatment period.
- Patients were further assessed using brain metabolism imaging (SPECT scans) to examine brain activity during the HBOT treatment. “The SPECT after HBOT demonstrated the disappearance of the perfusion lesions.”
- The study indicated a link between oxygen and stroke—“increasing the plasma oxygen concentration with hyperbaric oxygenation is a potent means of delivering to the brain sufficient oxygen for tissue repair.”
Not only did the study determine significant improvements in patients treated with HBOT, it crucially found that the progression occurred in patients even many months after the stroke event.
The study’s objective was to “evaluate the effects of HBOT started in the late-chronic phase after the acute stroke.” All the patients experienced strokes between six and 36 months prior to the HBOT treatment.
The Aviv Medical Program: The Road to a Better Life
Backed by over a decade of research, the Aviv Medical Program can include HBOT, along with cognitive training, dietary coaching, and physical performance training to help you recover even long after a stroke.
The program aims to offer patients a customized, coordinated, and multidisciplinary health plan to address their specific goals. As the aging process affects every person differently, each Aviv Clinics plan is individualized based on a patient’s post-stroke recovery needs.
Here’s how our process works:
- Assessment: Our dedicated team will conduct a thorough assessment to gain a holistic understanding of your health and craft a personalized health plan.
- Treatment: Under the supervision of Aviv’s medical staff, the treatment plan will entail a variety of health programs that are meant to get you on the road to recovery.
- Analysis: We will track data on how your treatment plan is progressing and make the necessary adjustments along the way.
- Follow-up: Upon conclusion of the treatment, our team will continue to follow up on your progress via an Aviv wearable device. This will allow us to send you reports on your health and performance.
Keren’s Inspiring Story
A holistic treatment plan that addresses the mind and body is key to successful recovery. Former Aviv Clinics patient Keren Trabelsi is a true testament to this fact.
Businesswoman and mother Keren Trabelsi suffered an ischemic stroke, causing paralysis on the left side of her body. Also, cognitive issues made daily tasks difficult, which did not make her feel as capable as she had been before. She sought the help of Aviv Clinics.
Now, 13 months later, she can walk comfortably, type with her left hand again, and engage in cognitive activities (i.e., crossword puzzles, Sudoku, etc.).
“[ Aviv Clinics is] like driving a Ferrari on the road to recovery versus driving like an old beaten-up car….”
Stay current on our client success stories to learn more about what the Aviv Medical Program can help you achieve.
Is the Aviv Medical Program Right for You?
If you’ve been experiencing cognitive or physical challenges since your stroke, the Aviv Medical Program may be able to help. We have treated thousands of patients suffering from various conditions, enhancing their quality of life.
We encourage you to speak with one of our licensed medical staff to see if it’s right for you, as each person’s body, medical history, and circumstances differ. Our staff will take the time to understand your health history, symptoms, and goals. This process will help us determine whether the Aviv protocol is a good fit.
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Improving physical and cognitive performance does not happen overnight. The Aviv Medical Program requires time and careful compliance to achieve success.
HBOT sessions take approximately two hours daily, five days a week, for 8-12 weeks. However, this timeline may vary across patients. Our clients see members of the Aviv healthcare team for additional therapies or coaching (e.g., cognitive training, dietary coaching, and physical performance training) multiple times each week.
Learn More about Post-Stroke Recovery
If you need help finding a stroke recovery plan, contact Aviv Clinics. Our diverse team of medical professionals is experienced in crafting customized treatment plans that have brought significant and fulfilling results for our patients.
Improving your quality of life begins here.