What is a stroke?
A stroke is an interruption in blood flow in the brain. An ischemic stroke may be caused by a clot which blocks a blood vessel. A weakened blood vessel may cause bleeding inside the brain, and this is termed a hemorrhagic stroke. Read more about ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes from the American Stroke Association by clicking on the following link: https://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/Types-of-Stroke_UCM_308531_SubHomePage.jsp
What is a TIA?
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is caused by a clot that is temporary. A TIA is often a “warning” of a possible impending stroke. There are lifestyle changes and other medical treatments that can prevent stroke. Read more about TIA from the American Stroke Association by clicking on the following link: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/AboutStroke/TypesofStroke/TIA/Transient-Ischemic-Attack-TIA_UCM_492003_SubHomePage.jsp
What are the symptoms of stroke?
Remember the acronym BE FAST to recognize a stroke. Recognizing these symptoms helps you know when to call 9-1-1 for medical help.
B – Balance loss
E – Eyesight changes
F – Face drooping
A – Arm weakness
S – Speech difficulty
T – Time to call 9-1-1
Read more about BE FAST from Stanford Health Care by clicking on the following link:
What is the emergency treatment for stroke?
First BE-FAST and recognize the symptoms of stroke and call 9-1-1.
Ischemic stroke can be treated with clot busting medication or thrombectomy (a procedure where the clot is removed). These are time sensitive treatments and it is imperative that the person experiencing stroke symptoms get emergent treatment quickly!
Hemorrhagic stroke is treated with medication to reduce bleeding and lower blood pressure if it is high. Surgery may also be needed.
Read more about the emergent treatment of stroke from the National Stroke Association by clicking on the following link:
What are the risk factors for stroke?
Lifestyle risk factors are habits that, if modified, can decrease the risk of having a stroke. Keep your stroke risk low with regular visits with your health care provider. Read more about risk factors for stroke from the National Stroke Association by clicking on the following link:
High Blood Pressure: Hypertension is the number one cause for stroke. Keeping blood pressure less than 120/80 is associated with a lower risk for stroke. This can be accomplished by healthy nutrition, exercise, medications, and avoiding smoking, excessive alcohol, and illicit drugs.
Get your blood pressure checked and see your health care provider if you have high blood pressure. Read more about high blood pressure from the American Heart Association by clicking on the following link: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/What-is-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301759_Article.jsp#.W1-3O9WpGM8
Diabetes Mellitus: People with uncontrolled diabetes are more likely to have a stroke. Managing diabetes with weight loss, exercise, health nutrition, and medication will decrease the risk for stroke. Read more about living with diabetes from the American Diabetes Association by clicking on the following link: http://www.diabetes.org
Tobacco Use and Smoking: Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. Tobacco increases plaque buildup in the arteries and clot formation. Ask your health care provider for help to quit smoking. Read more about getting support to quit tobacco use from the Oregon Health Authority by clicking on the following link: https://www.quitnow.net/oregon/
Contact the Oregon Quit Line at 1-800-784-8669.
Physical Activity: People who exercise five or more times per week have a lower risk for stroke. Read more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the guidelines for physical activity by clicking on the following link. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm
Diet and Nutrition: A diet which is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, some nuts and low in saturated fat is associated with a lower risk for stroke. Read more on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans by clicking on the following link: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/
High Cholesterol: High cholesterol can block normal blood flow and cause a stroke. The recommended total cholesterol level is less than 200. High cholesterol may be controlled with healthful nutrition, exercise or medication. Read more about cholesterol from the American Heart Association by clicking on the following link: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol_UCM_001220_Article.jsp#.W1-4GtWpGM8
Excess Weight: Obesity increases the risk for high blood lipids, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Excess weight is associated with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions all increase stroke risk. Ask your health care provider for information on weight loss and healthful nutrition.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Loud snoring, waking up gasping or choking, intermittent pauses in breathing during sleep, and excessive daytime drowsiness are symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Treatment is necessary as this is a risk factor for stroke. Read more about obstructive sleep apnea from the Mayo Clinic by clicking on the following link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obstructive-sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352090 See your health care provider if you have any of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol is associated with an increased risk for stroke. Read more on alcohol use and stroke from the National Stroke Association by clicking on the following link: http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/preventing-stroke/lifestyle-risk-factors
Do you need help with a drinking problem? Contact your health care provider. Learn more about the support that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide by clicking on the following link: https://www.aa.org/
Illicit drugs: Drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine can increase blood pressure and damage artery walls. These factors may cause a stroke. See your health care provider if you are unable to quit. The Oregon Health Authority provides a list of support and treatment services on the following link: https://www.oregon.gov/OHA/HSD/AMH/Pages/Get-Help.aspx
Atrial Fibrillation: This is a condition where the contractions of the heart are irregular which leads to insufficient pumping of blood. This results in blood clots which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Atrial fibrillation can be treated and stroke can be prevented. Anticoagulation medication helps reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. The National Stroke Association has developed the Afib-Stroke Connection initiative to help raise awareness. Read more about atrial fibrillation and stroke by clicking on the following link: http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/preventing-stroke/afib-stroke-connection/anticoagulation-therapy-wtk
What are the long term treatments for stroke?
Physicians will prescribe certain medications to prevent another stroke. Take your medications as prescribed. This is important for recovery.
Heath care providers will also suggest lifestyle changes to decrease the risk factors for another stroke.
Rehabilitation may be prescribed for the stroke survivor. The goal of rehabilitation is to improve the stroke survivor’s function in order to achieve the most independence as possible. Read more about rehabilitation from the National Stroke Association by clicking on the following link: http://support.stroke.org/acute_site/treatment/recovery.html
What causes stroke in children?
Some causes of pediatric stroke are congenital heart defects, sickle cell disease, malformed arteries, and trauma. Read more about pediatric strokes from the American Stroke Association by clicking on the following link.
What are some safety considerations after a stroke?
Strokes can affect people in many different ways depending on the location and severity of the damaged area in the brain. Many stroke survivors do not perform activities safely due to one or more of the following deficits.
Impulsivity: Tendency to move unsafely without thinking of the consequences
Poor sensation: Inability to feel temperature, pain, or positioning of affected extremity
Poor coordination: Clumsy movement secondary to decreased sensation or strength
Poor balance: Weakness or decreased sensation that may lead to falling when sitting or standing
Hemiparesis/hemiplegia: Weakness or inability to move one side of the body (unilateral paresis)
Fatigue: Lack of energy following a stroke
Neglect: Decreased attention to the affected side of the body
Read more about safety after a stroke and tips on how to be safer from the National Stroke Association by clicking on the following link.
What is aphasia?
Aphasia is defined as difficulty with language skills affecting individual’s ability to talk, write, read, or understand language.
Read more about aphasia and tips for communicating with aphasia from the National Stroke Association by clicking on the following link.
What is dysphagia?
Dysphagia is defined as difficulty swallowing or paralysis of the throat muscles. This may make eating, drinking, taking medication and breathing difficult.
Read more about dysphagia and tips for living with dysphagia from the National Stroke Association by clicking on the following link.
What causes bladder and bowel function problems after a stroke?
A stroke may damage the area of the brain that controls bladder and bowel function. This may lead to incontinence. There are interventions that can decrease the occurrence of bladder accidents. Initiating a bowel program following a stroke can assist in remaining continent. Discuss these conditions with your health care provider.
Click on the following link from the National Stroke Association to download a fact sheet on bladder and bowel function and treatments for these conditions.
What are some emotional changes that can occur after a stroke?
Following a stroke, it is not uncommon to experience emotional changes such as anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, fear and depression. Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) is a common condition after stroke which is manifested by outbursts of uncontrollable crying or laughing. Discuss these conditions with your health care provider.
Read more about the symptoms, treatments and tips for living with depression and the treatments, tips and resources for PBA by clicking on the following link from the National Stroke Association.