When it comes to stroke, unfortunately, trends in the population show that this will only be becoming a more and more popular disease in the next few decades.
The first thing that you have to realize when dealing with a stroke is that there are a number of risk factors that can lead to you having a stroke. Making sure that you manage your diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking are all proactive measures that you can do in order to reduce your chances of a stroke.
Studies estimate that patients who are actively smoking leading up to their stroke are two times more likely to die compared to those who are not smoking. If you are able to stop smoking, you can reduce your chances of having a stroke to levels comparable to the normal population in only a few years so it is something worth your while to do.
Another fact that people with close contacts having strokes must be aware of is the fact that having one stroke does not guarantee that you will be free of future strokes. Once you have one event of ischemia, it is quite possible to have another ischemic event. If a family member has had a stroke in the past, there is a genetic link between family members and strokes so it is also a good idea for you to be under tight control to prevent a stroke from happening. Patients need to be under tight control with their medications and visit with their doctor at the proper times. Some of the medications that you will be taking will also be blood-thinning medications so you need to be extra careful to avoid unforeseen injuries. A simple bump to the head or an innocent looking fall could become quite problematic with these medications.
Another point that you need to be aware of is that no strokes are identical in how patients will present. When blood is cut off from parts of your brain, the amount of damage that is done is hard to predict and patients may have varying degrees of how limited they may be after the event.
It is not uncommon for a very friendly and nice patient to turn into a very mean and aggressive patient after a stroke. This can be quite a traumatic experience for the friends and family of those having a stroke. It is important to remember that this is just a side effect of the stroke and that the patient cannot help this type of behavior. Many patients feel that medications can help return a person back to normal but we are unable to do this in medicine. Once tissue has died from lack of blood, you cannot revive it so doctors can only help rehabilitate the patient to become as functional as possible and to prevent future strokes from happening. Many family members over-anticipate what is possible with this therapy so please be aware of how realistic your expectations should be.
Unfortunately, I have seen many cases where relationships sour between family members during this situation because the patient is much more unkind than they once were. Another common situation that arises is that family members begin to fight because of unequal roles in helping the affected patient.
It is important to have a meeting with the close family to establish roles in helping care for the family member who has had a stroke and to be open-minded about potentially sending them to a nursing home facility if it becomes too difficult to manage and care for the person on your own.
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