The things you need to know about strokes. I first want to start this article by sharing a personal experience of mine. My mom, who had not turned 50 yet, never complained of anything, was not taking any medication because she did not need to, she did her yearly exams, went to the doctor and had blood tests every year regularly, and yet one morning at 5 am she had a stroke. Strokes can be first presented with different symptoms, sometimes confusing even for doctors unless they perform further examinations. The aim of this article is to explain in simple words how to prevent this dramatic event and what can be done in case it does happen. Always call 911 if you think you are having a stroke.
Many of you may have heard the term “stroke” and know that it causes brain damage, but what exactly is a stroke and how does it exactly happen? Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and globally and sometimes lead to disabilities, physically, intellectually, and psychologically.
Strokes are caused by the arteries of the brain, which carry oxygen and other nutrients to the brain, get blocked or rupture. “Time is brain”!
There is a very limited amount of time that brain tissues can survive without oxygen, up to six minutes, otherwise, the tissue starts to die and it is not a reversible change. This irreversible change/damage to the brain is what leaves the outcome. If you feel like you’re having a stroke call 911.
This is not going to be a depressing article; I am here to share my knowledge as a health professional and how we can help prevent a stroke.
You can start preventing a Stroke today, no matter your age or if you have it in your genes or not. It can happen to anyone and these days prevention is the best cure.
There are numerous underlying diseases that cause huge risks of having a stroke, so getting those under control, gives you a better chance statistically of avoiding a stroke and not suffering from second compromised issues with your health. Do not sabotage your well-being start making healthy lifestyle choices now.
You are weight and healthy eating.
I am starting with this topic because it has a key role in every disease. It has been proven that losing weight and having a healthy lifestyle, including having a moderate to intense physical activity, lowers the rates of complications, raises the opportunity to maintain better control of your disease, and also lengthens your life span. Not to mention how it affects people mentally, lowering the chances of depression, anxiety, and overall stress.
Obesity raises the chances of a stroke to happen, so if you are reading this and you are overweight please lose the extra weight. As a professional, I would ask people to lose weight and I’m also sure your doctor would strongly recommend the same thing, extra weight has a huge impact on your risk of having a stroke.
The ideal body mass index is under 25, but of course, that is not achievable in an eye blink and sometimes not even realistic. It can be achieved through a strong will, a good strategy which can combine working out and a good diet. When I say diet, I am not telling you to starve, all you have to do is eat around 1500-2000 kcal/day and meanwhile increase the daily physical activities: football, running, gym, dancing, whatever makes you happy and whatever makes your heart pace and sweat. Do not forget to stay hydrated, making short rests in between the sessions of working out do not strain your body.
I know, nicotine addiction is one of the biggest challenges of all time to get rid of. Smoking cessation is the first-line treatment that every doctor suggests to each of their smoker patients. I know it actually does not sound like a treatment, but after stopping smoking, lungs start to clear out and breathe normally, all those irreversible damages happening to your lungs and blood vessels… they stop. I am not going to lie and tell you that your lungs will be the same just like the way they were before you started smoking.
All patients should be encouraged to quit smoking. The pulmonary and blood vessels function of smokers declines more rapidly than that of non-smokers. Even though smoking cessation does not bring about a great improvement in lung function, quitting smoking does decrease the rate of further worsening to that of a non-smoker. Stopping also lessens the dangers of different pathologies, including heart sicknesses and malignant diseases.
Having said that you should quit smoking, I am acknowledging that it is very difficult to stop smoking, but DO NOT GIVE UP. Your body will thank you later and you will be so proud and grateful.
Diabetes type I and II.
Personally, I think this disease is one of the most challenging one, it lasts for the rest of your life and you have to ALWAYS be on track and have excellent control of your glycemic index. This is very important because diabetes is one of the greatest risks that lead to exacerbation of many diseases. Having a high glucose level makes your body heal slower; it raises the odds of having atherosclerosis which makes blood vessels less elastic, prone to form clots and raising the chances of ischemic events, including a stroke. So, if you have a diagnosis of diabetes, monitor your glucose level regularly, exercise, follow the diet from a nutritionist told and take anti-diabetic oral tablets or insulin pens regularly, just like the doctor has advised you.
Always consult your doctor.
Have you ever experienced palpitations, shortness of breath, irregular pulse? You need to immediately go to your doctor. An electrocardiogram may discover by chance a disorder of your heart rhythm, but there may be cases when the doctor will put you under a Holter Monitor, which is basically a form of an electrode that you have to keep on your body for at least 24 hours. Afterward, your doctor will study it and determine if you have any cardiac rhythm disorders, from which particularly atrial fibrillation is where we are focusing in this article. If you do, the next step is to put you under a blood thinner which is usually an anticoagulant, the most prescribed is Coumadin.
What happens when you have AF, is that irregular rhythm of the atria (one of the heart chambers) will cause turbulence in the blood and increase the pressure inside the heart walls, which may result in a clot. If that clot travels through the arteries all over your body, it may block a vessel, which is called an ischemic event.
Atrial Fibrillation is usually accompanied by an underlying disease and is the most common cause of a stroke.
The most common strokes are the hemorrhagic ones, with a bad prognosis in the aftermath. What happens, is that one of the vessels that furnishes the brain with oxygen might rupture (burst). It might be an aneurysm (sometimes not detected earlier) and high blood pressure on the walls of the thinned vessel might cause a rupture. High blood pressure is the main risk for causing a stroke, in men and women. The biggest investment you can make to your vascular health is to monitor blood pressure daily, and if it is higher than 120/80 mmHG, tell your doctor, Medicating high blood pressure, decreases the odds of many dramatic events.
How to maintain normal blood pressure, despite the medication? Lower the amount of salt! Salt makes the plasma hypertonic, which would require the water from the cells to move towards inside the vessel, increasing the volume inside the arteries, leading to high blood pressure (among many other reasons).
Eat less red meat, it contains a great amount of saturated fatty acids and it will cause high levels of cholesterol, which will increase the odds of forming clots.
Start eating more vegetables and consume fish instead of red meat. You may also want to substitute it with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Sports can help you have a healthy body and decrease your cholesterol level and blood pressure. For adults, it is recommended 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate to intensity aerobic physical activity. Children and teens are recommended to perform 1 hour of physical activity every day.
If you drink alcohol, drink in small amounts.
Too much of anything is bad, that is a universal rule. Drinking alcohol in low moderate amounts is okay. Studies have shown that if you have about one drink per day, your risk may be lower, but if you start drinking more than two drinks per day, your risk goes up very fast.
Take your medicine, regularly.
If you take medicine for any heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s advice rigorously and never stop taking it . Always ask questions if you don’t understand something, especially if you also take over the counter medicine, your doctor should take that into consideration as well. Never stop taking your medicine without first talking to your doctor or pharmacist and if you forget a dose, do not take two doses at the same time. It might result in fatality.
Collaborate with the health team.
You and your health care team can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions, mentioned above, which may lead to a stroke. Talk about your treatment plan regularly, and update it as much as needed.
F A S T
The National Stroke Association has created an easy acronym to help you recognize stroke symptoms. It goes:
–Face– it may drop on one side of the face and feel numb when you smile or speak. One of the eyes might rotate, not in a normal rotating function, or it might experience vision loss and headache.
–Arms– you may not be able to lift one arm or touch your nose with the pointing finger. If you raise both arms, one might drown. You may experience a lack of sensitivity, tingling, numbness, loss of force on the affected side, unsteady walk.
–Speech– it might be strange, odd, or slurred. You might not remember specific things.
–Time– Call an Ambulance, time is brain! In 6 minutes or less a stroke can cause brain damage.
Mental health effect.
Two of the most well-known mental issues that can influence individuals after a stroke are:
- Depression– numerous individuals experience serious episodes of crying, feeling of sadness and pull back from socializing.
- Nervousness – where individuals experience general sentiments of dread and uneasiness, once in a while with snapshots of serious, uncontrolled sentiments of tension (nervousness assaults)
- Sentiments of outrage, dissatisfaction and bewilderment are additionally normal.
Guidance and regular advice ought to be given to assist you in managing the mental effect of a stroke. This is one of the topics that isn’t openly discussed and should be an important part of your recovery plan.
The things you need to know about a stroke are issues will settle down or get better after some time, but in the event that they’re serious or keep going for quite a while or hold you back from recovery, a therapist or clinical psychiatrist might be needed. Stroke outcomes are very challenging, it is perfectly normal to feel depressed and anxious after a stroke, but there is nothing wrong with seeking help for your emotional suffering and if your doctor puts you on antidepressants, again it is a medical issue like any other disease that needs to be addressed and treated. So do not refuse medication for post-stroke depression. It is proven by studies that actually antidepressants fasten physical recovery, which is the main injury and issue.
For certain individuals, cognitive behavior treatment, CBT may help. CBT is a treatment that intends to change the manner in which you consider things to create a progressively positive perspective.
Cognitive is a term that alludes to the numerous procedures and capacities our cerebrum uses to process data.
At least one cognitive capacity can be injured by a stroke, including:
- communicative skills
- spatial mindfulness – having characteristic attention to where your body is corresponding to your prompt condition
- executive capacity – the function to design, take care of issues and reason about circumstances
- repetitive actions – the capacity to do gifted physical exercises, for example, getting dressed or making some tea
As a feature of your treatment, every last one of your intellectual capacities will be evaluated, and a treatment plan will be made.
You can be shown a wide scope of procedures that can assist you with relearning disturbed psychological capacities, for example, recovering your speech abilities through discourse and language treatment.
There are numerous approaches to make up for any loss of psychological capacity, for example, utilizing memory helps, journals and schedules to help plan everyday undertakings.
Most psychological capacities will come back with time and recovery; however, you may discover they don’t come back to the manner in which they were previously.
One of the harms of a stroke is that you may be prone to vascular dementia.
This may happen following a stroke or may build up some time after the stroke occurred.
Strokes can cause shortcoming or loss of motion on one side of the body and can bring about issues with the coordinate functions and balance, in medical terms called ataxia, presented when the patients walk or try to stand on their feet without support. It is almost like vertigo or dizziness.
Numerous individuals also experience extraordinary sleepiness in the initial weeks after a stroke, but they may also find it harder to fall asleep, which makes them even more drained.
As a major aspect of your recovery, you ought to be seen by a physiotherapist, who’ll survey the degree of any physical injury before making a treatment plan.
Physiotherapy will regularly include a few meetings every week, concentrating on activities to improve your muscle quality and conquer any walking troubles.
The physiotherapist will work with you by defining objectives. From the start, these might be straightforward objectives, for example, getting an object, holding it, catching it or moving it from one place to another.
As your condition improves, more objectives will come, all of them aiming a recovery almost back to normality, for example, standing or taking more steps on your own.
Word related treatment may include adjusting your home or finding ways to make ordinary exercises simpler, and discovering elective methods of accomplishing errands you have issues with.
In the wake of having a stroke, numerous individuals experience issues with talking and comprehension, just as perusing and composing.
On the off chance that the pieces of the cerebrum answerable for language is harmed, this is called aphasia, or dysphasia.
In the event that there’s a weakness in the muscles associated with discourse because of brain injury, this is known as dysarthria.
You should consider meeting a language specialist as quickly as time permits for an evaluation and to begin treatment to assist you with your communication skills.
This may include:
- activities to improve your command over your speech muscles
- utilizing communication helps –, for example, letter graphs and electronic guides
- utilizing elective techniques for communication–, for example, signals or composing and writing.
The injuries brought about by a stroke can interfere with your typical gulping reflex, making it feasible for little particles of food to enter your windpipe.
Issues with gulping are known as dysphagia. Dysphagia can prompt lung harm, which can trigger lung contamination (aspiring pneumonia).
During the first period of your recuperation, in order to avoid choking from dysphagia, it might be necessary to use a tube for feeding.
The tube is typically placed into your nose and gone into your stomach (nasogastric sonde), or it might be legitimately associated with your stomach in a little intervention done utilizing sedative injections (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, or PEG).
In the long haul, you’ll for the most part observe a discourse and language advisor a few times each week to deal with your gulping issues.
Treatment may include tips to make swallowing simpler, for example, taking littler nibbles of food and exhortation on stance, and activities to improve control of the muscles associated with gulping.
Stroke can at times harm the pieces of the brain that get, process and decipher data sent by the ocular nerves.
This can bring about losing a large portion of the field of vision – for instance, just having the option to see the left or right half of what’s before you.
Stroke can likewise influence the control of the eye muscles. This can cause double vision.
In the event that you have issues with your vision after a stroke, you’ll be sent to an ophthalmologist, who can evaluate your vision and propose potential medicines.
For instance, on the off chance that you have lost partially your vision, you might be offered eye development treatment. This includes activities to assist you with looking to the side with the diminished vision.
You may likewise be offered guidance regarding how to perform undertakings that can be troublesome if your vision is diminished on one side, for example, getting dressed.
A few strokes harm the piece of the cerebrum that controls the sphincter of the bladder and intestines.
This can bring about urinary incontinence and trouble with gastrointestinal control.
A few people may recapture sphincters control rapidly, however on the off chance that you despite everything have issues in the wake of leaving the clinic, help is accessible from the emergency clinic, your GP, and authority moderation consultants.
Request for help on the off chance that you have an issue, as there are loads of medicines that can help.
- bladder retraining works out
- the pelvic floor work out
- utilizing incontinence items
Sex after a stroke.
Having intercourse won’t put you at higher danger of having another stroke. There’s no assurance you won’t have another stroke, however, there’s no motivation behind why it ought to occur while you’re having intercourse.
Regardless of whether you have been left with a serious inability, you can try different things with various positions and find better approaches for getting physically involved with your significant other.
A few men may encounter erectile dysfunction after a stroke. Know that a few prescriptions can decrease your libido (sexual desire), so ensure your primary care physician knows whether you have an issue as there might be different drugs that can help.
Address your doctor or your recovery group, there are a few medicines that may help.
Taking care of someone who’s had a stroke.
There are numerous ways you can offer help to a companion or relative who’s had a stroke.
- Helping them do their physiotherapy practices, making sure they attend the sessions with the physiotherapist.
- Offering heartfelt help and consolation, motivating them that their condition will improve with time
- Assisting with persuading their recovery objectives
- Adjusting to any necessities they may have, for example, talking slowly in the event that they have communication issues
Taking care of somebody after they’ve had a stroke can be a heartbreaking experience. It’s okay to seek help and support from a group therapy or other people who have actually been through the same experience.
Prepare yourself for a change in behavior.
Somebody who’s had a stroke can frequently appear like they have had an adjustment in character and seem to act unreasonably on occasion.
This is the consequence of the mental and psychological effects of a stroke.
They may lose control or be angry towards you. Upsetting as it might be, don’t take it to heart.
It’s critical to recall that they’ll regularly begin to come back to their old self as their restoration and recuperation advances.
Attempt to stay patient and positive.
Recovery can be an extreme and puzzling procedure, and there will be times when it appears like little advancement has been made.
Empowering and lauding any advancement, regardless of how little it might be. Small achievements can help inspire somebody who’s had a stroke to accomplish their recovery objectives.
Set aside a few minutes for yourself.
In case you’re taking care of somebody who’s had a stroke, it’s important not to disregard your own physical and mental prosperity.
Associating with companions or seeking relaxation interests will assist you with adapting better to the circumstance. It is a heartbreaking, challenging, long term struggle for the patient and the family members. So make sure to take care of yourself, so you can be a strong support system for your loved one.
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