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Caregiverlist Care Brief: Stroke

What Is It? A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When this happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Ischemic stroke: occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by gradual buildup of plaque and other fatty deposits (85% of strokes are Ischemic). Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks leaking blood into the brain.

Symptoms? When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. When a stroke is occurring, symptoms may include: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, confusion, trouble speaking, seeing or walking and sudden headache with no known cause.

Treatments? Physical and mental rehabilitation which teaches the brain to rewire itself is very successful for stroke patients. In addition, managing blood pressure, cholesterol and atrial fibrillation through medications, diet and exercise will assist to prevent additional strokes. Rehabilitation is most effective the first year after the stroke occurs, to assist stroke patients to regain their mental and physical capabilities, and less effective after the first year has passed.