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Effects Of A Stroke
The effects of a stroke
may be different for everyone. They may depend on where the stroke happened in your brain and how much damage occurred there. Some people may make a full recovery. Other people may have long-term or lifelong effects. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any symptoms you have after a stroke. There are medicines and therapies to help manage the effects of a stroke. Early treatment for a stroke can improve your chances for recovery.
What family or support persons should know about the effects of a stroke:
It is important for family or support persons to know how a stroke has affected your loved one. Know when to call 911, seek immediate care, or call your loved one's healthcare provider.
Call 911 or have someone else call 911 for any of the following:
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
- You cannot be woken.
- You fall and hit your head.
- You have a seizure.
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your arm or leg is painful, red, or larger than normal.
- You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.
- You have a fall without hitting your head.
- Your blood sugar level or blood pressure is higher or lower than your healthcare provider said it should be.
- You bleed heavily or cannot stop bleeding from a cut or injury.
- You have a new, severe headache.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have a rash.
- You have new or worsening symptoms.
- You feel extremely sad or anxious.
- You feel you are unable to cope with your condition.
- You have trouble sleeping.
- You have open sores.
- You choke or cough when eating or drinking.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Problems with language, speech, and memory:
- Difficulty finding the right words or putting complete sentences together
- Difficulty putting words together that make sense
- Difficulty paying attention or a short attention span
- Difficulty writing or reading
- Problems with memory or being disoriented to time, place, or situation
- Problems thinking clearly or feeling confused
- Difficulty understanding written or spoken language or learning something new
Muscle and nerve problems:
A stroke may affect one side of your body or part of one side. You may be at an increased risk for falling if you have difficulty moving your leg muscles. You may have any of the following:
- Inability to move your arm, leg, or one side of your face (paralysis)
- Muscle weakness, spasms, or muscles that stay in one position (contracted)
- Poor balance, difficulty walking, or difficulty grasping objects
- Changes in your vision or poor vision
- Ignoring, or being unaware of one side of your body
- Numbness of your arm, hand, fingers, leg, foot, or toes
- Pain, tickling, or prickling in weak or paralyzed parts of your body
Bowel and bladder problems:
- Loss of control of your urine or bowel movements
- Feeling like you have to urinate frequently, even when your bladder is not full
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or constipation
Swallowing and eating problems:
- Difficulty swallowing food
- Difficulty feeding yourself
- A lack of taste or a change in the way you taste things
- An increased risk for aspiration (food moves into the lungs) and pneumonia due to swallowing problems
Changes in personality or mood:
- Depression, sadness, irritability, or hopelessness
- Anger, frustration, or anxiety
- Difficulty controlling emotions or expressing inappropriate emotions
- Quick mood changes
- Low energy levels
- Tiring easily
- A lack of motivation
- Development of sleep apnea
- Changes in sleep such as sleeping too much or not enough
Problems with sexual function:
- Difficulty having or keeping an erection
- Vaginal dryness
- A decreased interest in sex
Your healthcare provider will assess (test) your recovery 90 days (3 months) after your stroke. This may be done over the phone or in person. Your provider will ask how well you can do the activities you did before the stroke. He or she will also ask how well you can do your daily activities without help. Your provider may make recommendations for you based on your test. For example, you may need someone to help you walk safely. You may also need help with daily activities, such as getting dressed. Based on your answers, your provider may do this test again over time.
Self-care after a stroke:
- Go to rehabilitation (rehab) as directed. Rehab is an important part of treatment. A speech therapist helps you relearn or improve your ability to talk and swallow. You may start slowly and start doing more difficult tasks over time. Physical therapists can help you gain strength and build endurance. Occupational therapists teach you new ways to do daily activities, such as getting dressed. Therapy can help you improve your ability to walk or keep your balance. Your therapy may include tasks or movements you will need to do for everyday activities. An example is being able to raise or lower yourself from a chair.
- Prevent falls in your home. Remove anything you might trip over. Tape electrical cords down. Keep paths clear throughout your home. Make sure your home is well lighted. Put nonslip materials on surfaces that might be slippery. An example is your bathtub or shower floor.
- Use assistive devices. A cane or walker may help you keep your balance as you walk.
- Manage other medical conditions. Manage your heart conditions, blood pressure, and diabetes. Management of these conditions can reduce your risk for another stroke. Take your medicines as directed. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions for diet.
- Join a support group. Life after a stroke can be difficult. It may be helpful to talk to others who have had a stroke. There are also support groups for family members or support persons of those whom have had a stroke. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about support groups.
Know the signs of depression:
Depression can happen after you have a stroke. Depression can lower your quality of life and cause you to stop doing things to help you be stronger. Depression can cause you to become less independent. Know the signs of depression so that you can receive help. Tell your family and friends that if they see these signs, to let your healthcare provider know. You may show any of the following signs of depression:
- Extreme sadness
- Avoiding social interaction with family or friends
- A lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Trouble sleeping
- Low energy levels
- A change in eating habits or sudden weight gain or loss
Driving after a stroke:
Do not drive a car without talking to your healthcare provider or occupational therapist. The effects of a stroke may make it difficult or unsafe for you to drive. You may need to have a driver evaluation before you can safely and legally drive a car. You may also need to take a driver training program or get special equipment installed in your car. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about driving after a stroke.
For more information and support:
- National Stroke Association
9707 E. Easter Lane
Centennial , CO 80112
Phone: 1- 800 - 787-6537
Web Address: http://www.stroke.org
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to come in for regular tests of your brain function. If you are taking warfarin, you will need to come in for regular blood tests. Your INR levels will also need to be checked. These tests help make sure you are taking the right amount of warfarin. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.