Can life-threatening conditions result from stroke?
Your doctor’s highest priorities after a stroke are to prevent complications from the present stroke and to prevent another stroke. Your doctor must determine that you are medically stable and able to resume some self-care activities. This means that all complications must be treated and under control.
Some complications happen as a direct result of injury to the brain due to stroke, or because of a change in the patient’s abilities; for example, being unable to move freely can result in bedsores. Clinical depression can also occur with a stroke.
What are common complications of stroke?
The most common complications are:
- Edema (eh-DE-mah) — brain swelling after injury
- Seizures — abnormal electrical activity in the brain causing convulsions
- Clinical depression — a treatable illness that often occurs with stroke and causes unwanted emotional and physical reactions to changes and losses
- Bedsores — pressure ulcers that result from decreased ability to move
- Limb contractures — shortened muscles in an arm or leg from reduced range of motion or lack of exercise
- Shoulder pain — stems from lack of support or exercise of an arm
- Blood vessel problems — blood clots form in veins
- Urinary tract infection and bladder control — urgency and incontinence
- Pneumonia — causes breathing problems, a complication of many major illnesses
What can be done?
If you need medical treatment, your doctor will prescribe it.
- Medical treatment often involves medical supervision, monitoring and drug therapies.
- Physical treatment usually involves some type of activity that may be done by you, a healthcare professional or by both of you working together. Types of treatment
- may include:
- range-of-motion exercises and physical therapy to avoid limb contracture and shoulder pain and blood vessel problems.
- frequent turning, good nutrition and skin care to avoid bedsores.
- bladder training programs for incontinence.
- swallowing and respiratory therapy, and deep-breathing exercises, all of which help to decrease the risk of pneumonia.
- Psychological treatment can include counseling or supportive therapy for feelings that result from clinical depression. Types of treatment may include antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. You may also be referred to a local stroke support group.
What are the warning signs of stroke?
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headaches with no known cause
Learn to recognize a stroke, because time lost is brain lost.
Today there are treatments that can reduce the risk of damage from the most common type of stroke, but only if you get help quickly - within 3 hours of your first symptoms.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience these warning signs!
Content courtesy of: American Heart Association