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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- A hemorrhagic stroke is a condition that happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Blood leaks out and can irritate or injure the brain tissue, or cause damage by pushing into nearby areas. A hemorrhagic stroke may begin suddenly, develop quickly, and cause the death of brain tissue within minutes or hours. Death of a part of the brain may lead to loss of body functions controlled by that part. This may cause paralysis (being unable to move) of part of the body, or problems talking, swallowing, thinking, or walking. Medical conditions, such as having high blood pressure or diabetes, and birth defects may weaken blood vessels and increase the risk of them bursting. Head injuries and street drugs, such as cocaine, meth, or heroin, may also cause bleeding.
- Imaging tests, such as computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are used to diagnose hemorrhagic stroke. Treatment may include breathing support with a machine (ventilator), medicines, or surgery. Having a hemorrhagic stroke may cause you to lose some body functions, such as walking or talking, forever. Your may need physical and occupational therapy, and speech rehabilitation to recover lost functions. You may become depressed after your stroke and need medicine for depression. You may need to make diet and lifestyle changes to prevent having a stroke again.
- Keep a written list of the medicines you take, the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Learn why you take each medicine. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicine. Do not use any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers.
- Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not quit taking your medicines until you discuss it with your caregiver. If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment.
- Cholesterol medicine: This type of medicine is given to help decrease (lower) the amount of cholesterol (fat) in your blood. Cholesterol medicine works best if you also exercise and eat a healthy diet that is low in certain kinds of fats. Some cholesterol medicines may cause liver problems. You may need to have blood taken for tests while using this medicine.
Ask your caregiver when to return for a follow-up visit.
Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.
Blood sugar and blood pressure checks:
- If you have diabetes, you may need to check your blood sugar many times each day. To do this, you may have to use a glucose monitor. This is a small device that tells how much sugar is in your blood. The monitor uses a small drop of blood from a prick on your finger. In a diary, write down your blood sugar results each time for your caregiver to review. Your caregiver will tell you what your blood sugar level should be. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to check your blood sugar.
- If you have high blood pressure, you may need to check and write down your blood pressure readings. Caregivers will teach you or your family how to check your blood pressure, and tell you how often to do this. Keep a written diary of your blood pressure readings, along with the date and time you took them. Take this diary with you to your caregiver visits. Ask your caregiver for more information about hypertension and how to take a blood pressure.
Life after a stroke:
Adjusting to life after a stroke can be hard. You may not be able to do many things you could do before the stroke. You may not return to the level of functioning you had before the stroke. You may no longer be able to live on your own. The way you think and feel about things may be different. You may have problems with talking and communicating with others. You may be forgetful, have trouble thinking clearly, be tearful and sad, or get irritable or short tempered. You may become depressed and need treatment for depression.
Preventing another hemorrhagic stroke:
The following are ways to help prevent another stroke:
- Control other health problems: These health problems may include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Take all your medicines as directed by your caregivers. You have a greater chance of having another hemorrhagic stroke if you do not take your medicine.
- Avoid alcohol: Do not drink alcohol, because it can make your illness worse. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor, such as vodka and rum. Drinking a lot of alcohol can damage your brain, heart, and liver. The risks for high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancer are greater for people who drink too much alcohol. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.
- Diet: Eat a variety of healthy foods every day. Your diet should include fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, and protein (such as chicken, fish, and beans). Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. Ask your caregiver if you should be on a special diet. You may be told to eat foods that are low in fat or cholesterol. You may also be told to limit the amount of salt you eat. Special cookbooks can make it easier to plan low fat and low salt meals. You may need to change the way you eat to control your blood sugar by choosing foods lower in sugar. Ask your caregiver or dietitian for more information about these special diets.
- Keep a healthy weight: Weighing too much can make your heart work harder and can cause serious health problems. Talk to your caregiver about a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Quit smoking: If you smoke, you should quit. Quitting smoking will improve your health and the health of those around you.
- Rehabilitation, also called rehab, is an exercise and training program to help you return to your usual activities. Rehab helps you regain and relearn the skills of everyday living, such as walking and talking. Physical and occupational therapists may work with you to exercise and strengthen your arms, legs, and hands. They may work with you to relearn or improve how you walk (gait training). They may also teach you new ways to do your activities of daily living. A speech therapist may work with you to help you talk and swallow. Rehab exercises may be hard to do and make you tired when you first start doing them. Over time, they should become easier and less tiring to do as you get more fit.
- In rehab, you will have several exercise goals in getting better after you have had a stroke. These include increasing how strong your muscles are by doing things such as lifting weights. You will work on stretching your joints to make them more flexible so they can move easily. You will work on improving your balance and ease in moving your body. This will reduce your risk of falling and injury during your daily life. You will also be working to increase your overall fitness level. You will do fitness exercises, such as walking or riding an exercise bicycle. If you are more fit, you can do things such as housework for a longer time without needing to rest.
You may spend a lot of time in bed and need a special mattress called an egg crate or an air mattress. You will need to be turned often if you cannot move by yourself. Turning often will help prevent bed sores. Bed sores can happen when pressure on your skin and underlying tissues decreases the blood flow to those areas. Ask your caregivers for more information about preventing pressure sores.
How can I tell if someone is having a stroke?
Use the quick and easy-to-remember F.A.S.T. test to check for signs that someone is having a stroke:
- F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Drooping on one side of the mouth or face is a sign of a stroke.
- A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. One arm that slowly comes back down or cannot be raised is a sign of a stroke.
- S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence that you say first. Speech that is slurred or strange sounding is a sign of a stroke.
- T = Time: If you see that the person has any of these signs, this is an emergency. Call 911 or 0 (operator) to activate the EMS (emergency medical service). Ask for an ambulance to take the person to the nearest hospital.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Your blood pressure is higher then what your caregiver has told you it should be.
- You are having trouble with any of your therapy or exercises.
- You have a pressure sore on your skin.
- You cannot make it to your next appointment.
- You have any questions or concerns about your condition, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have chest pain that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back.
- You have trouble breathing.
- You have one or more of the following signs or symptoms of a stroke:
- A very bad headache. This may feel like the worst headache of your life.
- Confusion and problems speaking or understanding things.
- Not able to see out of one or both of your eyes.
- Too dizzy to stand, trouble walking, or loss of balance.
- Weakness or numbness of your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body.
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