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Stroke In Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A stroke happens when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted. This can cause serious brain damage from a lack of oxygen. Brain function may be affected depending on where the stroke happens. A stroke can happen when your child is still in the womb, or at any age after birth. A stroke caused by a blood clot is called an ischemic stroke. A stroke caused by a burst or torn blood vessel is called a hemorrhagic stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke is more common than ischemic stroke in children. When stroke symptoms last a few hours and do not cause damage, it is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA may be a warning sign that your child is about to have a stroke.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your child has 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
- Your child's arm or leg is warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Your child has a seizure.
- Your child feels lightheaded, short of breath, and has chest pain.
- Your child coughs up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your child is bleeding from his rectum or nose.
- Your child has vision loss or a severe headache.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child's blood pressure is higher or lower than you were told it should be.
- Your child has trouble having a bowel movement or urinating.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Medicines will depend on the kind of stroke your child had. He may need any of the following:
- Medicines may be given medicine to help his blood clot more easily if he had a hemorrhagic stroke. He may also need medicine to control seizures, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Antiplatelets , such as aspirin, help prevent blood clots. Take your antiplatelet medicine exactly as directed. These medicines make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Know the warning signs of a stroke:
The word F.A.S.T. can help you remember and recognize warning signs of a stroke.
- F = Face: One side of the face droops.
- A = Arms: One arm starts to drop when both arms are raised.
- S = Speech: Speech is slurred or sounds different than usual.
- T = Time: A person who is having a stroke needs to be seen immediately. A stroke is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. Some medicines and treatments work best if given within a few hours of a stroke.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Your child may need to come in for regular tests of his brain function. If he is taking warfarin, he will need to come in for regular blood tests. His INR levels will also need to be checked. These tests help make sure he is taking the right amount of warfarin. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Take your child to rehabilitation (rehab) as directed:
Rehab is an important part of treatment. A child's brain may be able to adapt to loss of function better than an adult's brain. Rehab can help your child relearn how to walk, read, or do other activities lost because of the stroke. A speech therapist helps your child relearn or improve his ability to talk and swallow. Physical therapists can help your child gain strength and build endurance. Occupational therapists teach your child new ways to do daily activities, such as getting dressed. Therapy can help your child improve his ability to walk or keep his balance. Take your child to rehab right away. The earlier your child starts rehab, the more effective it will be.
Make your child's home safe:
Your child may have trouble walking or keeping his balance after a stroke. Remove anything he 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.
Help your child use assistive devices:
Your child may need to use a walker or other device to help him keep his balance as he walks.
Help prevent another stroke in your child:
- Talk to your child about not smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase your child's risk for another stroke and cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if your older child currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Manage health conditions. Conditions such as sickle cell anemia increase your child's risk for another stroke. He may be able to get blood transfusions to prevent a stroke if he has sickle cell anemia.
- Offer your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Your child should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Offer foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Choose foods that are high in potassium, such as potatoes and bananas.
- Have your child exercise as directed. Activity is important for preventing another stroke. Exercise may help your child be able to do his normal activities more easily. Exercise also helps control blood pressure and weight.
- Help your child maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much your child should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if your child is overweight.
- Check your child's blood pressure as directed. High blood pressure can increase your child's risk for a stroke. If he has high blood pressure, follow your healthcare provider's directions for controlling his blood pressure.
Where can I find support and more information?
- National Stroke Association
9707 E. Easter Lane
Centennial , CO 80112
Phone: 1- 800 - 787-6537
Web Address: http://www.stroke.org
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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.