A silent stroke happens when small blood vessels in the brain become blocked. A silent stroke does not cause classic symptoms but having multiple silent strokes can increase the risk of a future stroke. A new study shows having diabetes and high blood pressure increases a person's risk for a silent stroke.
For the study, researchers conducted MRIs and 24-hour blood pressure monitoring on 360 Japanese patients. All of the patients had high blood pressure but did not have symptoms of it. Also, 159 of the patients had diabetes.
None of the patients had been diagnosed with other cardiovascular diseases. The MRIs were used to determine which participants had suffered multiple silent strokes also known as silent cerebral infarcts.
Researchers report 82 percent of the patients with diabetes and high blood pressure and 58 percent of those with hypertension alone had suffered a silent stroke. They also found three or more SCIs were found in 62 percent of the patients with diabetes and high blood pressure compared to only 35 percent of those with only high blood pressure.
Study authors say if a patient is found to have multiple SCIs, they should be treated as if they had suffered a stroke. For example, doctors say the patient should be put on an aspirin regimen or other drugs to help blood flow in the body.
Researchers also looked at patients who had white coat hypertension. White coat hypertension is when a patient has high blood pressure only when they are in the doctor's office. Those with diabetes and white coat hypertension had more silent strokes than those who had high blood pressure all the time, but no diabetes.
Investigators say this study shows the risks for patients with both diabetes and high blood pressure. Doctors recommend all hypertensive patients be tested for diabetes as least once a year. Meanwhile they say people with high blood pressure who do not already have diabetes should take steps to control their weight, eat healthy and exercise regularly.