Strokes are common in elders and one of the significant reasons behind their end. We don’t want to scare you. But that’s the thing! Strokes are scary, and you must know about them and how to deal when your dear elder is hit by one.
Read on to know what is a stroke, its types, the causes, the symptoms, and how you can make your elder prevent it.
Always remember, Emoha is there to help you in this health journey for your elder.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke is not a disease you can take lightly. You or your elders might get stumped by a stroke any moment. The reason behind is that a stroke involves the damage of the very organ that takes control of the rest of the organs. A stroke damages the brain within minutes and might create an emergency.
But, what is stroke disease? A stroke happens when your brain cells aren’t able to get enough supply of oxygen and nutrients due to a blockage in some artery or due to bleeding of the blood vessels which were there to provide the requirements.
However, we have noticed many people often think that brain strokes, heat strokes or heart strokes are types of strokes.
That's not right, though. Let us clear that confusion first before we move on to discussing strokes.
What is brain stroke?
It is another term for a stroke. A stroke in general means a section of the elder’s brain cells are not working due to an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients.
What is heat stroke?
It is not related to stroke at all. A heat stroke is when the elder’s body organs cannot function properly due to the rise in the core body temperature to up to 104 degree Fahrenheit.
It is also known as sunstroke and is often due to staying exposed to severe heat for a long time and not drinking enough water.
Some signs and symptoms your elder might experience heat stroke are nausea, vomiting, dry skin, muscle cramps, rapid pulse and headache.
What is a heart stroke?
Most people use the term heart stroke interchangeably with the term heart attack.
A heart attack, as you know, is related to the organ - heart, while a stroke is all about the brain.
What Symptoms of a Stroke Should You Be Aware Of?
During a stroke, your body is being handled by the damaged cells in your brain. So, you must be on a lookout for body organs that might show this. That’s important because the sooner you notice the symptoms, the faster some action will be taken to relieve the elder.
So, what symptoms should you be looking out for?
See if the elder is experiencing any of the following
- Vision trouble
- Numbness in the face, legs, or arms
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty understanding the words they listen to
- Loss of balance and hence, trouble in walking
- One side of the body feeling paralysed
- Trouble breathing
- Increase in agitation
All these might seem to be a lot. So, here is what some experts suggest you should do.
Remember to act FAST.
FAST, here is an acronym.
Face drooping (F):
Check if the elder’s face is drooping. It will be more visible if they try to smile.
Arms weakening (A):
Check if the elder can raise both the arms. If they feel weak, and cannot raise both arms properly, that’s a sign.
Speech difficulty (S):
Check if the elder can speak in the right manner. Without slurring. See if they have any problems in understanding your speech by speaking a few simple sentences to them and asking them to repeat.
You must always remember what is a stroke. It is a deadly disease. Your brain’s cells and tissues start dying in minutes. So, as soon as you find these symptoms, call the ambulance and get the elder treated as fast as possible.
What Are the Types of Strokes?
Strokes are majorly of three types. One is the ischemic stroke, one is hemorrhagic, and the last one is a mini-stroke.
What is an ischemic stroke?
Ischemia refers to an insufficient blood supply to some organ of your body. In case of a stroke, this organ is the elder’s brain.
Ischemic stroke is the most common one of all three. It happens when certain blood vessels cannot reach your brain cells to provide the nutrients and oxygen for the brain’s functioning.
The artery that carries these blood vessels in the brain either gets narrowed or blocked. This blockage can be because of two reasons.
A clot formed in the artery in the brain.
This type is called a thrombotic stroke.
This stroke occurs when cholesterol starts building up in the artery, which has to carry the blood vessels.
This build-up called plaque causes the narrowing of the artery.
But when the plaque ruptures, a clot is formed in the artery which blocks its passage and doesn't let the blood vessels reach the brain cells.
A clot formed in another organ of the body
This kind of stroke is known as an embolic stroke. It happens when the blood that is travelling towards the brain, carries clot/fatty cells made in some other organ of the body.
These clots are usually from the heart. They cause an obstruction and don't let the blood vessels nourish the brain cells.
What is hemorrhagic stroke?
A haemorrhage stroke is one in which the blood vessels rupture and start bleeding before they could reach the brain cells.
This stroke can happen due to:
- High blood pressure
- Aneurysm (bulging in the walls of the blood vessels)
- Some traumatic accident
- Weak arteries
- Ischemic stroke
Haemorrhage strokes are of two types. One is called intracerebral, and another is known as subarachnoid.
In the first one, the tissues covering the brain get filled with the blood from the ruptured vessels.
In the second type, the area between the brain and tissues that surround it gets filled with the same blood.
What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA) / a ministroke?
Some might say that transient ischemic attacks are a type of ischemic stroke. The reason being that these happen the same way as ischemic strokes. The cause behind is a clot that can be formed in the brain artery or in some other organ before travelling to the brain.
However, the main difference between these two types is the time in which they can be resolved.
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) can happen for minutes or a maximum of 24 hours. That’s why it is also known as a mini-stroke.
The damage in brain function that happens due to a TIA is mostly temporary. Plus, it develops slowly.
Other strokes happen rapidly and cause almost irrecoverable damage.
Since the symptoms of all the other kinds of strokes and the mini-stroke are the same, you shouldn't take them lightly. What you might think of as a TIA might turn to be one of the other types of strokes.
Causes & Risk Factors
A stroke is a deadly disease which is caused by many common lifestyle issues. These are:
Being overweight is a sign that you don't eat healthy food. It means that your consumption of fat and cholesterol is higher.
You might recall the causes of ischemic strokes. They happen due to clots that form due to cholesterol or fatty cells. So, if you are obese, beware and take precaution by changing your diet to a healthy one and by exercising regularly.
These are common in the elderly. Thus, making elders more vulnerable to strokes.
Most heart disease happens due to clogged arteries, high cholesterol, damage in heart valves etc.
These can raise the chances of forming clots that can block the brain’s arteries.
High blood sugar levels can make clotting easier. They also damage the blood cells. Thus, promoting the actions of a stroke.
Smoking, drinking and illegal drugs:
If your elders spend their free time smoking cigars, drinking or in consuming illegal drugs like cocaine, they are already damaging the cells in the body.
The more the damage, the weaker the brain will be to control the organs. This damage makes the elder more vulnerable to stroke. The rate at which the destruction of brain cells happens during a stroke will be higher too.
Additionally, the nicotine in cigarettes raises your blood pressure and increases the fat build up in the body.
Blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants) can lead to weak walls of blood vessels which can cause them to rupture.
Birth control pills and those used in the menopause hormone therapy are also known to increase the chances.
If your elder has a genetic disorder which makes blood flow to the brain harder, or anyone in the family has high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes, then the chances of getting hit by a stroke are high.
As you age, the chances of getting a stroke increase. That’s because many lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure trouble the people above 50.
Another problem with advancing age is the recoverability rate. The older the organs in the body, the less is the chance of getting the damage reversed.
What Steps Can You Take to Prevent Strokes?
- Get regular check-ups.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a nourishing and healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Keep your cholesterol low.
- Keep your blood pressure normal.
- Control your blood sugar levels.
- Quit smoking (even passive).
- Say no to illegal drugs.
- Take medications in a controlled manner and avoid their use if they can increase the stroke rate.
- Drink in moderation (fully avoid if possible).
A stroke can turn around your happy lives. You and your elders must stay clear of strokes in every way possible.
Take the steps we just discussed to prevent strokes in your elders. Get them regularly checked and analyse the results.
If the blood pressure is high, work on getting that at the right level. If weight is increasing, make the elders do more yoga or morning walks to manage that. Also, you can control blood sugar in the same way.
If you need any help to manage your elder’s health, Emoha is there for you.
You can choose any of the eldercare plans we have and bless the lives of your elders.