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Types of Stroke, Stroke Signals, and Stroke Prevention

Hemorrhagic Stroke

In this instance, the blood and oxygen makes its destination to the brain, however, the vessel carrying it bursts and leaks blood into the brain destroying brain cells in its wake. A stroke caused by hemorrhaging inside the brain is considered more dangerous and is involved in about 17 percent of stroke cases. Your doctor might group ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes together and refer to them as a cerebrovascular accident.

Strokes are America's number three killer, right after heart attacks and cancer. You and your parents should be aware of the symptoms. This is definitely the time to call 911.

The American Heart Association lists the following stroke signals:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, and leg on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

The Stroke Forecast

Geri-Fact

A CT (Computed Topography) scan is a computer-enhanced x-ray study that detects structural abnormalities on any part of the body. A MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a magnetic imaging test that detects structural abnormalities on any part of the body.

If your parent has a stroke, you'll learn that the first two days are crucial for your parent's recovery. It's a tough wait-and-see vigil until you know the extent of the damage. The doctor might order a CT scan or a MRI to help him or her pinpoint the cause of the stroke.

The good news is that many people recover from their strokes and can resume a normal life. For others, it will be a tougher recovery period and will involve some intensive rehabilitation. Your parent will need a lot of support and you should be on guard for depression. Regretfully, about 20 percent of the people who have strokes will die, never leaving the hospital. Those in their 80s and 90s are especially vulnerable.

If your mom or dad has high blood pressure, definitely make sure he or she monitors it. I'll never forget the day the ambulance came to rescue our dear friend and neighbor. He'd suffered a debilitating stroke from which it took two years to recover. He hadn't been taking his blood pressure medicine.

Preventing Strokes

Your parent can do more to prevent a stroke than modern medical technology can do. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most treatable conditions linked to stroke are:

  • High blood pressure. A well-balanced diet, healthy weight, and exercise are a sure formula to control high blood pressure. Medications can also control it.
    Bottom line: Treat it.
  • Cigarette smoking. Plenty of evidence has shown that cigarette smoking highly increases risk for stroke.
    Bottom line: Quit.
  • Diabetes. Complications from diabetes contribute to strokes.
    Bottom line: Control the diabetes to reduce the chance of strokes.
  • Heart disease. Heart disease creates a friendly environment for strokes. Pills like aspirin can prevent clotting.
    Bottom line: Manage your heart disease to ward off strokes.

Probably, the greatest barrier you'll face with changing your dad's (or mom's) lifestyle is the belief that he's too old to make a difference to his body. Or he'll contend that since the damage is already done, what's the point in changing? He needs to be convinced that, in fact, more damage can be done if he does nothing. And on the bright side, he can get better and even feel younger with a body given good nutrition, exercise, and a smoke-free environment.



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More on: Aging Parents

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents © 2001 by Linda Colvin Rhodes, Ed.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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