Silent Strokes

July 2 2020

Not all strokes are immediately obvious. Learn the subtle signs to watch for in your aging parent – and what can be done to prevent and treat them.

When it comes to spotting a stroke, we’ve been taught to act FAST – checking for facial drooping, arm weakness, and slurred speech. But not all strokes follow this model, and symptoms can sometimes be so subtle you might not notice them. So, if you’re caring for an aging parent, here’s what to watch for and how to ensure the best treatment if he or she does have a stroke.

Hard to spot

The strokes less likely to be caught are posterior circulation strokes, says Whitney Chapman, stroke coordinator at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital. “Symptoms can be mild, raging from someone just suddenly being confused to experiencing blurry or double vision, or waling with an imbalance.” Headaches can also be a “vague” symptom.

So, how can you stay vigilant as a caregiver? If it feels like something is “off” and your loved one has risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or is overweight, it never hurts to seek help, Chapman says. “Obviously, if the symptoms are clear, you should call 911 immediately, because there are therapies to treat stroke and preserve brain tissue – but they’re time-sensitive.”

Symptoms should always be reported to a care provider, and cation your parent never to stop taking medications or adjust doses without talking to his or her doctor, Chapman says.

Castle Rock Adventist Hospital’s ER provides lifesaving care to stroke victims. If you suspect a stroke, call 911. For less urgent conditions, check our ER wait times at

Stroke is a primary cause of long-term disability – and the mot common preventable cause of disability.