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Elderly patients often suffer from asymptomatic stroke after surgery
A survey of more than a thousand people from different parts of the world showed that about one in 14 elderly patients after surgery had an asymptomatic ("silent") stroke. The risk of "silent" stroke should be considered by physicians when working with patients over 65.
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New research suggests that up to three million people over the age of 65 may experience a "silent," or asymptomatic, stroke for up to a year after surgery. The research report is published in the Lancet.
Canadian researchers from McMaster University have found that asymptomatic stroke, which can only be detected by brain scans, is more common than an overt stroke that quickly causes visible symptoms such as weakness or numbness in one arm or speech problems that last more than a day.
Scientists examined more than 1,000 people in the Americas, Asia, New Zealand and Europe and found that about one in 14 elderly patients had an asymptomatic stroke after surgery. This suggests that up to three million people over the age of 65 around the world may experience a silent stroke every year. According to the authors, asymptomatic strokes are actually much more common than overt strokes in older people who have had surgery.
Canadian scientists focused on 1,114 patients who underwent elective noncardiac surgery between March 2014 and July 2017. Each participant underwent an MRI scan within nine days of surgery so that signs of asymptomatic stroke could be detected. As a result, 78 people (7%) had a "silent" stroke.
The research team then tracked patients for a year after surgery to assess their cognitive abilities. Those who had asymptomatic stroke after surgery were 13% more likely to have cognitive decline, delirium (acute impairment of attention and perception), overt stroke, or microstroke caused by temporary circulatory disturbance in a specific part of the brain by 13%.
The authors say that, thanks to advances in surgery and anesthesiology, surgeons can now operate on older patients, but that there are associated risks involved.