Studies have shown that in the United States alone, approximately 795,000 people suffer from stroke annually. It’s also the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming roughly 130,000 lives each year.
The immediate causes of stroke are blockage or interruption of the blood supply to the brain due to blood clots and bleeding. These result in the death of brain cells owing to oxygen deprivation. The origins of most strokes can be traced to hypertension which is a condition typically brought about by an unhealthy lifestyle. This lifestyle is marked by lack of regular physical activity, a diet high in sodium and cholesterol, tension and stress, smoking, and a sizeable intake of alcohol.
The other underlying condition that results in increased vulnerability to strokes is a high cholesterol level, which is strongly linked to blocked arteries in the brain. High cholesterol levels can be controlled through medication and can be prevented through exercise coupled with a diet low in saturated fats and high in fiber.
Two Main Types of Stroke
These immediate causes of strokes are the means by which strokes or cardiovascular accidents (CVA) can be classified.
Hemorrhagic strokes take place when a blood vessel located in the brain ruptures. The blood that leaks out from this ruptured blood vessel then either fills the brain’s surrounding tissue with blood, which is the case in a brain hemorrhage, or it fills the space between the skull and the brain, which is the case in a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Ischemic strokes occur when blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked by a clot or what is known in medical parlance as a thrombus. When a clot breaks away and becomes free-floating, it becomes an embolus, which can travel through the bloodstream and can block blood flow to the brain thereby causing an ischemic stroke. An estimated 87% of stroke cases are ischemic strokes.
Tips for Patient Care
Millions of people have survived strokes and for them, it is often very difficult to cope with the business of living when so many abilities may have been lost. Here is a simple guide for people who are living with or taking care of a stroke survivor.
Join a support group. This will allow you to see yourself, your patient, and the entire situation in the proper context and you will see that you are not the only one confronting problems, which may seem new and unique to you.
Keep abreast with developments in the field of caring for people who have just suffered a stroke. Get hold of the latest information.
Ensure that therapy is carried out to the optimum extent. Part of successful therapy is doing homework faithfully.
Beware of depression. Depression is a normal response to the situation that a stroke survivor faces. However, when this becomes prolonged, intervention may be needed.
Help the patient prevent a stroke from recurring. Make sure that he or she adheres to a healthy lifestyle.
Never miss a scheduled check-up with the doctor. Take your medications religiously.
Try to do the things you normally did before the attack. You can use a wheelchair to aid your mobility if you have difficulty moving around. And using accessories like wheelchair bags can make sure your medicine and personal belongings are always within reach.
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Basic Strategies for Stroke Prevention
Here are some ways for stroke patients to manage their life better, of course, with the help of their loved ones or caregivers:
Keep your blood pressure within normal range. High blood pressure is one of the major precursors of a stroke. Check your blood pressure regularly.
Stop smoking. Smoking negatively impacts the walls of blood vessels. It worsens plaque buildup and raises blood pressure. As a result, the heart has to work harder.
Moderate your alcohol intake. As a rule, a drink a day is tolerable and some literature will even claim that it is beneficial. If you drink alcohol regularly, ask your doctor about how much you can drink.
Keep cholesterol normal. Cholesterol is a waxy substance made of lipids and proteins, which helps the liver produce bile. It also aids in the production of hormones. However, when cholesterol is not kept at optimum levels, it can clog arteries and cause a stroke. If your total cholesterol level exceeds 200, consult a doctor.
Diabetics usually develop other health problems (such as hypertension) which raise the chances of a stroke. Get help from your health service provider to control your blood sugar levels. Stick to the diet prescribed for you.
The prevention of stroke is not at all impossible. After assessing your own risk factors and consulting with a doctor, you can go on to proactively lead a healthy life that will minimize the chances of suffering from a cerebrovascular accident.