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Caring for stroke victims to prevent against recurrence

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • 2 in 3 stroke victims could be at risk of a lifelong disability if they do not receive the hospital treatment quickly enough.
  • Strokes occur due to a number of factors, including the aging process, chronic health disorders such as stress, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, eating an unhealthy diet, and a lack of exercise.
  • Stroke victims require special care in order to prevent them from suffering a repeat injury as these are a major factor behind lifelong disability and early death.

 

Caring for stroke victims to prevent against recurrence

According to the World Health Organization, to be healthy means being fully functional in terms of the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of our lives. This also means we must protect ourselves from ill health through efficient and speedy diagnosis of disease, adequate care and treatment of illnesses to prevent repeat occurrences, and undergoing rehabilitation for any disabilities that may result from such an illness.

The world’s human population is currently aging. Thailand is no different in this regard, with 1 in 4 of its citizens aged over 65, meaning the Thai populace is classified as aged. Living longer lives means that the number of people suffering from chronic health disorders and debilitating illnesses, which leave them to rely on the care of others, is also on the rise. This is particularly relevant in terms of strokes, which are a major cause of temporary disability, permanent disability, and death. Statistics reveal that 2 in 3 stroke victims could suffer from lifelong disabilities should they not receive timely hospital treatment for their injury.

A stroke occurs when circulation to the brain is obstructed, reduced or completely cut off. There are a number of risk factors behind stroke occurrence, such as being over the age of 65, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress, arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Spot the 4 warning signs of a stroke (F.A.S.T.)

  • Facial palsy: weakening of the facial muscles, drooping mouth, being unable to properly close the eyes, dribbling and being unable to show the teeth or smile.
  • Arm weakness: severe weakness in one arm or leg, or numbness down one side of the body that leaves one unable to lift the affected arm or only able to do so for a short time.
  • Speech: difficulty speaking, stuttering over one’s words, being unable to speak clearly and having trouble finding the right words.
  • Time: get the patient to the hospital as quickly as possible because anticoagulant medication must be administered within the first 4.5 hours to be most effective.

Warning signs that should precipitate an urgent visit to the doctor

If someone experiences any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that they are suffering a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which occurs when circulation to the brain is temporarily interrupted: severe dizziness or headaches, elevated blood pressure or suddenly feeling exhausted, severe muscle weakness, numbness, balance issues or numbness down one side of the body and face, trouble speaking, a sudden loss of memory, blurred vision, and temporary blindness in one or both eyes. TIAs often results in stroke-like symptoms, although the damage caused to the brain is generally not permanent. Nevertheless, a TIA could be a sign that the patient is at risk of a stroke, making an urgent visit to the doctor essential.

Stroke risk factors

Strokes can occur as a result of numerous factors, some of which are preventable and some of which are not.

  • Unpreventable risk factors are age and gender. As we age, our organs and blood vessels deteriorate, placing them at risk of failure, and it has been found that males are at higher risk of suffering a stroke than females.
  • Preventable risk factors include health disorders that have a detrimental effect on blood vessel health, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and smoking (the nicotine and carbon monoxide contained in cigarette smoke cause blood vessel rigidity that increases stroke risk). Obesity is also deemed to be preventable risk factors.

Preventing stroke recurrence

  • Increase consumption of fruits.
  • Try to eat fish at least twice a week. Omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation, and fish fats are good for health.
  • Reduce consumption of fatty foods, including meat with the skin still on, saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Reduce intake of salty foods or dishes with high salt content.
  • Regulate blood glucose levels, especially important for diabetic patients who must be sure to maintain a healthy diet, get regular exercise and take medication as advised by their physician.
  • Reduce or limit consumption of alcohol to no more than 1–2 units per day, and give up smoking altogether.
  • Take good care of your personal hygiene.
  • Undergo rehabilitative treatment in the form of physiotherapy. If it’s difficult or expensive to visit the hospital for these sessions, patients may want to consult their doctor regarding remote stroke care or Stroke TeleCare.

The most effective treatment for a stroke is to protect yourself from suffering from one in the first place by reducing exposure to risk factors.

It is essential that the correct care and rehabilitation from incapacitating injuries be undertaken in cases where patients have suffered a stroke, in order to reduce the likelihood of stroke recurrence.

Caring for a patient who is no longer independent as a result of their stroke requires a close relationship between the hospital and the patient’s family. The best possible care should reduce the chances of future complications, including disability and loss of life, although providing high quality care may place a financial burden on the patient and their family. Placing the patient under the care of a hospital will ensure their every need is met and is generally considered safer than homecare, but home care is cheaper and more convenient.

Homecare providers can greatly improve the quality of care they provide when relevant information is provided by the hospital, either in person or through communication technologies.


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