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‘Silent strokes’ common in seniors after surgery: study

Seniors can suffer from small strokes following surgery, according to a new study.
Seniors can suffer from small strokes following surgery, according to a new study. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Canadian researchers say so-called “silent” strokes are common in seniors after they have elective, non-cardiac surgery and double their risk of cognitive decline one year later.

Cardiologist and co-lead researcher PJ Devereaux of Hamilton Health Sciences says that “silent,” or covert, strokes are actually more common than overt strokes in surgery patients aged 65 or older.

While an overt stroke causes obvious symptoms such as weakness in one arm or speech problems, a covert stroke is not obvious except on brain scans.

READ MORE: A selfie alerted this woman to her stroke symptoms - It ‘literally did save my life’

Overt stroke occurs in less than one per cent of adults after non-cardiac surgery but researchers found that covert stroke occurred among seven per cent of the 1,114 study participants.

WATCH: What a stroke is and how to spot the signs

What a stroke is and how to spot the signs
What a stroke is and how to spot the signs

The global study detected MRI evidence of the more subtle condition among 78 patients aged 65 years and older who underwent surgery between March 24th, 2014, and July 21st, 2017.

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These patients were also more likely to experience cognitive decline, delirium, overt stroke or a mini-stroke within one year, compared to patients who did not have a silent stroke.

READ MORE: Women are one-third more likely to die of stroke than men, yet many are unaware of signs

The results of the NeuroVISION study were published Thursday in The Lancet.