How to Recognize the Signs and Risk Factors of a Stroke

Stroke is one of the most well-known health issues of seniors.  Early intervention with a stroke victim can lessen the long-term effects and it may allow them to fully recover.  However, it can be difficult to recognize when a loved one is having a stroke if you do not know what to look for.

A stroke happens when the blood flow to your brain is interrupted.  There are several reasons that this can happen but it is most often due to a blockage or clot in the artery.  The blood carries oxygen to cells, and a stroke is the result of a lack of oxygen to those cells.  The symptoms a person experiences depend on the area of the brain affected and the seriousness of the damage.

Signs of a Stroke

One of the easiest ways to remember what to look for in a suspected stroke is the acrostic FAST.  It is essential to get treatment fast if you suspect that a loved one is having a stroke.

  • F – Does one side of the face droop?  If you are unsure, ask them to smile.
  • A – Can they move both arms over their head?  Does one drop more than the other one?
  • S – Ask the person to speak.  Are their words slurred or nonsensical?
  • T – If the person exhibits any of these signs,      call emergency assistance immediately.

Other symptoms the person may have that could indicate the possibility of a stroke include numbness on one side of the body.  This could be on the face or an arm or leg.  They may lose the ability to move that side for a few minutes.  Numbness in the face may result in drooling.

The person may seem confused and unable to comprehend simple statements such as asking them to perform a command.  They may also have trouble walking or standing or develop blurred vision in one or both eyes.  A sudden headache that is severe may be another indicator.

If your family member shows signs of a stroke, call emergency help immediately.  Once they are in a hospital, tests can be performed to confirm if they have had a stroke and medicines may be given to reduce the possibility of long-term damage.

TIAs or Transient Ischemic Attack are mini-strokes that are short-lived and disappear within 24 hours.  Symptoms vary widely from person to person, depending on the affected area of the brain, but generally TIAs do not have any long-term effects.  TIAs may precede a major stroke, so it is important to have the person checked out even if they have returned to normal.

The symptoms of a TIA are the same as for a major stroke and should receive the same emergency response.  At this point, there is no indication that it is a mini-stroke and that normal function will return.

Know the Risk Factors

Not all strokes are preventable, but it can be helpful to know if someone has risk factors that make them more likely to suffer one or more strokes.  Some risk factors are preventable, while others are hereditary or unpreventable.

Preventable Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Tobacco use
  • Blood Circulation issues
  • Alcohol use

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

  • Gender – males are more likely to have a stroke
  • Age – those over 55 are more likely to experience      a stroke
  • Race – People from African American, Hispanic, or      Asian descent are more likely to have a stroke
  • Family history – has anyone in the immediate      family had a stroke?
  • Previous stroke or mini-stroke (TIA)

Of all of these factors, the ones with the greatest influence are age, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.  Only one is uncontrollable and that is age.  This is important information for family caregivers to know about their senior family members.  A change in lifestyle for seniors can reduce their likelihood of having a stroke.

If you have a loved one that has the risk factors for a stroke or has suffered one, our team at Carefect Homecare Services can provide the help you require. Our caregivers are trained to look for signs of a stroke and to handle it in the appropriate manner.  Carefect Homecare Services caregivers can provide healthy, well-balanced meals for specific health problems and assist with physical activity to help maintain the health of those who have been disabled by a stroke.