As you get older, you will likely put more of your own effort into learning about the medical events that could endanger you, your spouse or your family members. Knowing the early warning signs of a heart attack or stroke can be the difference between trying to suffer through it quietly at home in the hope that symptoms will subside after a bit and getting the medical attention you need.

Sadly, even those who seek medical help when they recognize the early warning signs of medical events can wind up not getting the care they need to protect their health. Particularly in cases of stroke, it may be possible for physicians to miss, ignore or misinterpret certain symptoms.

Given that symptoms present differently in different people, medical professionals pay close attention to a patient and perform necessary testing in order to affirm a diagnosis.

What is a silent stroke?

A stroke involves an interruption of blood flow to the brain, and in many patients, the symptoms are immediate and obvious. You probably already know that strokes can results in limp or sagging facial features, loss of motor control, slurred or difficult speech, unexpected falls and loss of consciousness.

While these are common and easy to detect symptoms of a stroke, not all strokes produce the same symptoms, because they don’t all affect the same part of the brain. Some strokes can produce more subtle symptoms like dizziness, nausea, sensations of numbness, balance issues, headache and feelings of weakness in the limbs or face.

Time is of the utmost importance in a stroke scenario

When there isn’t adequate flow of blood and oxygen to your brain, every minute that goes by increases your risk of brain damage and the loss of function and freedom that goes along with that damage. Physicians, especially those working in emergency rooms, hospitals and urgent care facilities, must familiarize themselves with the warning signs of a silent stroke.

Knowledge about both common and uncommon stroke symptoms is critical to a physician’s ability to adequately identify them and get the patients the care and testing they need to reduce the impact of that stroke on their life. Patients who suffer significant permanent consequences from a physician who failed to diagnose a stroke may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against that physician.