Stroke Facts Caregivers Need to Know

Doctor teaching patient stroke factsStrokes – also known as cerebrovascular accidents, or CVAs – are extremely common. They’re also extremely misunderstood. Today we’re going to talk about the stroke facts you need to know so that you can take care of your older loved ones.

Strokes aren’t painful.

Many people assume that strokes are accompanied by pain. The truth is that they aren’t. Hemorrhagic strokes sometimes cause headaches, but not necessarily. So if your loved one is in pain, you need to look for a different cause.

Strokes are preventable.

This stroke fact is extremely important. Strokes are very preventable, and second strokes even more so. Proper nutrition, fitness, weight loss and management and other lifestyle changes can literally be the difference between life and death. So if your loved one has already had a CVA – or if they are overweight or very sedentary – encourage them to talk to their physician about stroke prevention.

There is treatment for stroke.

If your loved one suffers a stroke, get medical assistance immediately. There is no way to stress this enough. The faster your loved one is treated, the better their chances of recovery. That prompt medical attention, together with a comprehensive stroke rehab program, can give your loved one the best shot possible at living a normal, functioning life again.

TIAs are a medical emergency.

This is one of the most important stroke facts. Small strokes – transient ischemec attacks – need to be treated as medical emergencies. If you suspect your loved one has suffered a TIA, call 911 or follow the protocol at their residence. This is serious. TIAs put your loved one at very high risk for CVAs. Don’t ignore it.

It’s easy to identify a stroke.

There are very specific characteristics that define a stroke. And they’re easy to remember because they have an acronym: BE FAST:

  • Balance issues. Is your loved one’s balance and coordination off?
  • Eyes. Sudden vision disturbances – blurred vision, double vision or a loss of vision in either eye.
  • Facial drooping. That’s self-explanatory.
  • Arm weakness. If your loved one can’t lift their arms above their head and hold them there, you need to go on alert.
  • Speech. Difficulty speaking at all, as well as slurred speech, are a major red flag.
  • Time. If your loved one is presenting with any of these symptoms, don’t waste any time and call 911!

Strokes cannot be treated with aspirin!

The medical community isn’t quite sure where this one started, but for some reason it was widely believed that aspirin could treat strokes. This is a real myth. Do not give your loved one aspirin if you suspect a stroke! Get them to the emergency room.

They say that what you don’t know can’t kill you. But when it comes to stroke facts, what you don’t know can impact negatively on the loved one you’re trying to take care of. For their sake, and for yours, make sure you know what to do – and not to do – if your loved one suffers a stroke.