Written By Sierra Powell / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Strokes are the leading cause of disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Some strokes can be prevented with early intervention. That's why it's so important to know what causes strokes and the risk factors that can increase the chances of having a stroke.
With this information in mind, you have a better chance of keeping yourself healthy and possibly saving the life of a loved one. If a family member or close friend has recently suffered a stroke, they'll need your support. If you're caring for your loved one during this challenging time, here are some important things to know.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is an injury to the neurological system and what causes a stroke is when the blood flow in the brain is interrupted. A stroke can happen when an artery leading to or in the brain clots or bursts.
Strokes fall into two categories: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are the most common and happen when plaque deposits or a blood clot clog one of the brain's arteries and stop the blood from traveling to the associated area(s) of the brain.
Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery in the brain ruptures and causes bleeding in and around the brain. The bleeding causes pressure and compression in the brain, which leads to a stroke.
A stroke is life-threatening because brain cells are unable to properly function with blood that is rich in oxygen. Immediate medical treatment is crucial to restore normal blood flow and to keep the brain cells from dying.
How Are Strokes Treated?
Ischemic strokes are usually treated with medications that dissolve blood clots such as tPA or aspirin. Hemorrhagic strokes require surgery to relieve swelling around the brain and repair ruptured arteries. It is important to act quickly to minimize brain damage by restoring the flow of blood to the brain as soon as possible.
While a stroke is left untreated, brain cells are sustaining damage due to the lack of oxygen-rich blood. This leads to damage in the affected parts of the brain. Fortunately, the brain is a resilient organ and neuroplasticity allows the brain to heal.
This restorative process is designed to restore order in the brain and bring back as much function as possible. Once you have a clear understanding of a stroke, you can better understand how to see the warning signs and offer your support.
Strokes affect everyone differently. You should learn all you can about your loved one's health conditions before you can offer effective assistance. The first few weeks after the stroke are especially critical. Your loved one's doctor will likely give you a lot of medical information, which can be overwhelming and confusing.
Take in as much knowledge as you can so you can provide the care and support your loved one needs. It may also be helpful for you to join a support group if you are your loved one's caretaker. In the group, you'll learn about certain terms associated with stroke patients and gain strength and perspective by listening to other people's experiences.
Some hospitals offer these support groups for free and you'll find that socialization and communication will give you the information and peace of mind you need to care for your loved one.
Learn How to Communicate
Some people have problems with language and speech after a stroke. This can be devastating for the victim and make it more difficult for your loved one to communicate with you. More than likely, you'll have to find new ways to communicate with your loved one after they've had a stroke. This allows you to understand what your loved one needs and wants.
There are several strategies you can use, including hand gestures, a computer communication system, writing, or drawing. You and your loved one may also come up with certain verbal expressions that make it easier to have conversations with each other.
It is also important to note more than half of stroke victims experience depression within a year of having a stroke. This can drastically hinder the recovery process. Depression should be treated as soon as possible, and you can be an important part of this process.
Continuing to encourage your loved one and motivating them to participate in all available treatment options is one of the best ways to show your support as your loved one heals.
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Sierra Powell graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a major in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing. When she's not writing, she loves to cook, sew, and go hiking with her dogs.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.
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