What To Expect: Stroke

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Background

The brain is the origin of incredible things within the human body. Language, rationality, memory, even love wouldn’t be possible without the almost mystical complexity of the human brain. But with such an intricate organ, malfunctions can cause serious problems. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in America, and life after a stroke will oftentimes be vastly different than life preceding. Strokes occur as a result of blood flow problems in the brain, and being aware of the symptoms, preventive measures, and resulting consequences can help manage expectations around the condition.

Symptoms

The most common symptom, and most identifiable symptom of a stroke is numbness in the face, arm, or leg. Numbness in the face can be tested for by asking a loved one to smile. Does the smile come off as uneven? Is one side of their face drooping, or unresponsive? Numbness in the arm can be tested by having your loved one to raise both arms. Is one of the arms less mobile or straight up than the other? Another symptom associated with being prone to having a stroke is excessive speech slurring. Not being able to enunciate, or project the voice may imply that there is a risk of stroke. These symptoms can conveniently be memorized by the mnemonic FAST, which represent facial drooping, arm numbness, speech difficulties, and time. Time meaning that if any of these symptoms are showing, you should consult a doctor without hesitation. Also, considering that strokes occur in the brain, severe headaches are also a symptom. Vomiting and intermittent consciousness are more serious signs that something may be wrong.

Preventative Measures

As with most conditions associated with aging, living a healthy lifestyle is definitely a preventative measure of avoiding a stroke later in life. Proper nutrition and exercise really cannot be understated as being a profoundly effective way to increase your chances of avoiding difficulties later in life. Cigarette smoking has also been shown to increase the likelihood of having a stroke. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the most critical modifiable condition that is linked to stroke likelihood. A variety of things contribute to hypertension, and it’s different depending upon the person. There are genetic implication to be considered, but caffeine consumption, high salt intake, obesity, stress, and depression all can contribute to high blood pressure. Another major cause of stroke is “carotid stenosis,” or in other words, the narrowing or blockage of the carotid arteries located in the neck. The narrowing and blockage is a result of a buildup of plaque, which usually consists of cholesterol, calcium, fat, and a variety of other substances. Monitoring your consumption of these substances can be an important step in decreasing the likelihood of having a stroke. It’s important to get a head start on these kind of things; talk to your primary care physician about your personal liability to having a stroke. It’s never too early to set a framework for how you can avoid and handle any major condition.

To learn more about preventative measure, click here to read the National Stroke Association’s take on how best to avoid a stroke.

Stroke Rehabilitation

Life after a stroke shouldn’t be expected to be the same as life before in every circumstance. There are many emotional, communicative, and mental difficulties that can occur as a result of a stroke. Chemical changes in the brain after a stroke can result in a person experiencing emotions differently. Some people experience deep sadness after a stroke, while others, surprisingly enough, experience happiness. For more information about the emotional side effects of having a stroke from the American Stroke Association, click here. It’s also not uncommon for stroke victims to experience communication problems after having a stroke. Sometimes seeking help from a speech therapist is necessary, in order to get your aging loved one’s ability to communicate back to normal. For more information on communication recovery post-stroke, click here.

Conclusion

As always, finding support from friends and family after a difficult experience like a stroke can drastically improve a person’s ability to cope with their condition. There have been a lot of innovations in stroke treatment recently, as strokes used to account for the 3rd most deaths in the U.S. If you, or anyone you know, has any questions regarding symptoms, preventative measures, or stroke rehabilitation, do not hesitate to connect with a LifeLinks care manager. Click here for answers catered specifically to your situation.