Moderate Exercise May Cut Risk of ‘Silent’ Stroke

(WebMD) — People who continue to engage in moderate to intense exercise as they age may be less likely to develop the small brain lesions commonly referred to as silent strokes, new research suggests.

Silent strokes are generally not recognized at the time they happen because patients do not have the symptoms associated with major strokes, such as severe headache, dizziness, speech problems, and paralysis.

They occur when small blood vessels in the brain become blocked or rupture and, just like clinically evident strokes, they can lead to long-term issues such as memory problems.

Regular exercise has been shown to protect against major stroke, but the role of physical activity in silent stroke has not been well understood.

Moderate to Intense Exercise vs. Light Exercise

The newly published study by researchers at New York’s Columbia University and Florida’s University of Miami included roughly 1,200 older people who had no history of stroke at enrollment.

Most of the study participants were in their 60s when they completed a detailed questionnaire exploring how often and intensely they exercised upon entering the study.

Roughly six years later, at an average age of 70, the participant underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans.

The scans showed that 197 participants, or 16%, had small brain lesions indicative of silent stroke.


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