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What is the difference between silent stroke and mini stroke?


Updated June 10, 2014

What is the difference between silent stroke and mini stroke?
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Question: What is the difference between silent stroke and mini stroke?
Silent strokes and mini strokes are minor vascular events which can forecast that a large stroke is coming.

Although they sound similar, silent stroke and mini stroke are relatively different types of strokes. A silent stroke is found incidentally on an MRI of the brain. When patients are asked whether they remember having a stroke, they are often surprised and cannot recall feeling any symptoms of stroke at any point in their lives. One study showed that by the age of 69, approximately 10% to 11% of people who consider themselves stroke-free have suffered at least one stroke that can be seen on MRI.

A mini stroke, on the other hand, is a brief, but discrete and certainly memorable clinical event, in which a person develops the symptoms of a stroke for a few minutes to a few hours. By definition, the symptoms of a mini stroke disappear in less than 24 hours. The alternate name doctors use for mini strokes is transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs.


Bradley G Walter, Daroff B Robert, Fenichel M Gerald, Jancovic, Joseph Neurology in clinical practice, principles of diagnosis and management. Fourth Edition, Philadelphia Elsevier, 2004.
Das RR, Seshadri S, Beiser AS, Kelly-Hayes M, Au R, Himali JJ, Kase CS, Benjamin EJ, Polak JF, O'Donnell CJ, Yoshita M, D'Agostino RB Sr, Decarli C, Wolf PA. Prevalence and Correlates of Silent Cerebral Infarcts in the Framingham Offspring Study. Stroke. (2008) Jun 26.

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