Though many residents of Cedar Rapids and elsewhere generally know that strokes are dangerous, potentially disabling, and sometimes require extra end of life care measures, fewer people are familiar with how and why they take place.
Above and Beyond Home Health Care is always eager for people to know more about the warning signs and dangers of strokes, and also how someone’s life can dramatically change after one takes place.
According to the Internet Stroke Center, a stroke takes place when blood supply disrupted to the brain. This usually starts with blockage of at least one artery and can happen quickly. Blocked arteries can also burst causing more damage to the brain.
The result of a stroke can vary depending on what part of the brain loses blood flow and how much damage is sustained. It could affect walking and balance, it could affect nerves, it could affect everything on different sides of the body, or it could affect speech or memory.
Sometimes the damage is permanent, sometimes lost abilities can return or be regained with certain types of therapy.
The Centers for Disease Control said about 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke during a year, and about 140,000 of these are fatal. Any age, gender and race can have strokes, but they are more common for age 65 and over.
Internationally, 1 in 6 people have strokes. It’s the second leading cause of death worldwide for those after age 60 and the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Of the different symptoms that could occur, at least half of stroke survivors experience a loss of mobility. Strokes can also cause long-term disabilities. The severity of disabilities can sometimes be reduced the sooner someone seeks medical attention when they believe they’re having a stroke.
What to know
There are a variety of risk factors, and most come down to foundations such as a poor diet and a lack of exercise. Smoking, obesity and diabetic conditions also can play roles along with the harmful use of alcohol.
Previous strokes, heart disease, chronically high cholesterol, and psychological factors also can influence the possibility of a stroke, according to the World Stroke Organization.
Signs of a stroke can include sudden numbness, confusion, problems speaking or understanding others, or rapid changes in vision or coordination.
People familiar with strokes should realize they’re having one and get help quickly, and the people around them should also be able to recognize them and seek assistance.
After a stroke
People who have experienced strokes may have problems beyond the physical.
Emotionally, it can cause a variety of challenges.
- People want everything to go back to how it was. This is usually impossible especially if the stroke causes permanent damage. Mourning their life before the stroke can potentially lead to depression, anxiety, and discomfort.
- They could be embarrassed or self-conscious. If physical changes have taken place, they may be noticeable or believe them to be noticeable. It could include a limp, the need to use a cane, or visible sagging in the face. Slurred speech also could be another possible symptom, which also could be difficult to endure for someone who has had a long life speaking clearly.
- They could be feeling other pain. Changes from a stroke can lead to other body pain as your body readjusts.
- They could have regrets. Because a stroke is potentially disabling, it could limit someone’s plans and activities in the short-term and long term. Someone with mobility problems may not be able to golf anymore or even travel to places where there’s a lot of walking. Someone with comprehension problems may not be able to read anymore without a lot of concentration.
- They could feel alone. When dealing with a new health condition, it’s common to stay at home and focus on managing that or not wanting to be around others for fear of discussing a changed situation.
The Stroke Association said several of these concerns can be countered.
- Find and join a support group. Your local medical center, clinic, church or community center may offer support groups for people going through the same things you are and likely have similar concerns. Not only will it help people learn about community resources, but it will provide a social outlet.
- Attitude is everything. It’s easy enough to be angry and negative. But if you approach some of these challenges with a helpful, if not neutral, attitude, they are easier to focus on.
- Thinking positive. Some people who have begun therapy are ready to put the effort in to see what abilities would or could return.
- Plan for something new. Even if some of your old habits, procedures and use of time are required to change, it could be a great opportunity to learn new routines, try new projects or find creative solutions.
Overall, the staff at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is experienced with patients with strokes, and understand that there can be a period of change and uncertainty ahead.