Having a stroke is one of the most frightening prospects of aging. Strokes can come on suddenly, stealing the use of an arm or the ability to speak. A stroke can be fatal or leave us permanently disabled.
If you are caring for a stroke survivor, you may have a lot of questions about whether your loved one will recover and what his or her needs will be in the months and years ahead. You may also worry about how you will manage in your new role.
"Caregiving can be a big load to shoulder," says Maggie Fermental, RN, a stroke nurse at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Formerly an OR nurse, Fermental suffered a stroke at the age of 31 from a fall while ice skating. She now counsels stroke...
Although most strokes are survivable, most people never recover completely after a stroke. Around a quarter of those who survive are permanently disabled.
There are two main types of strokes:
Ischemic: An artery inside or leading to the brain becomes completely blocked. Usually this is caused by a blood clot that forms in a clogged artery. It can also be due to a blood clot traveling to the brain from the heart.
Most strokes (about 87%) are ischemic, and most of those are caused by atherosclerosis.
Hemorrhagic: These strokes are caused by bleeding into the brain. Most commonly, high blood pressure causes a small artery to burst open. Abnormal blood vessels (such as aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations) are particularly likely to rupture. The bleeding disrupts healthy blood flow to brain tissue.
Hemorrhagic strokes are less common, making up about 13% of all strokes.
Regardless of whether a stroke is caused by atherosclerosis or bleeding, the symptoms are the same:
Sudden weakness on one side (in the face, arm, or leg)