According to WHO, around 15 million people suffer from stroke across the world every year. Stroke is the second leading cause of mortality after Ischemic heart disease, despite medical and technological advancements. An optimal management plan is required to deal with a stroke; by incorporating a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
Let us take a look into a real-life case study:
Name/Age: 61-year-old Michael, a senior partner of a law firm.
Medical history: Pre-diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. Smoking history of 30 years (quit three years ago).
Warning Signs: Sudden slurring of speech while having breakfast, drooping left side of the face, and weakness in the left lower and upper limbs.
Immediate Action: Admitted to Acute Stroke Unit within 15 minutes.
Diagnosis: Confusion, decreased tone, altered sensation
Investigation and Results: CT and MRI. Observed hyperdensity at the M1 segment of the right middle cerebral artery, more extensive perfusion indicated that salvageable penumbral tissue was present in substantial volume, and a signal loss in the middle cerebral artery and right internal carotid artery.
Treatment: Intravenous Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA).
World Stroke Day:
World Stroke Day is observed annually on October 29th. The campaign is to underscore stroke’s high rates and severe nature. It helps build awareness of people, across the globe, to prevent and treat the illness, and ensure improved care and support for the survivors.
Causes of Stroke:
A stroke is a bursting or bleeding in the brain’s blood vessels, i.e., haemorrhagic stroke or ischemic stroke caused by a blocked artery. It is an interruption or reduction of blood supply to a segment of the brain. It obstructs the tissue from obtaining nutrients or oxygen, resulting in the destruction of brain cells within minutes.
Stroke and senior care:
A mammoth 5 million die from stroke, and five million have permanent disability. Over 12.7 million people suffer a stroke due to high blood pressure. Over 50% of strokes occur in people over 75 years of age, and 30% of people who suffer a stroke are over 85 years. Seniors are at higher risk of death due to stroke. Statistics show that around three-quarters of stroke cases occur at the age of 65 or above.
Warning signs and symptoms of stroke in seniors:
Seniors have an increased risk of symptomatic and asymptomatic strokes. Additional health factors can be the cause of stroke in older people. Patients may experience muscular, visual, facial, speech, sensory, or issues in the whole body, like:
· Muscular Difficulties: Walking, one-side paralysis, stiffness, instability, overactive reflexes
· Speech Problems: Slurred, loss of speech, or difficulty in speaking
· Sensory Problems: Reduced sensations of needles, pins, or touch
· Visual Problems: Double, blurred, temporary, or sudden vision loss, rapid eye movement
· Facial Problems: Weak muscles or numbness
Some other common problems may include fatigue, headache, difficulty in understanding, vertigo, etc. However, silent strokes are more common in older people. The sudden symptoms which are a medical emergency are as follows:
· Vision Problems
· Difficulty in walking
Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize the long-term and severe effects of the strokes.
The early treatment can be provided to the patient consisting of blood thinners with tPA or clot-buster medications, which can help minimize brain damage. The following treatments are considered for the patients:
Medication: Treatment through medications can help reduce the risk caused by blood clotting. There are several medications available that can help relax the blood vessels and lower the blood pressure level. Treatment should be taken under a well-qualified doctor only.
Surgery: The surgical procedure, Carotid Endarterectomy, can help reduce the risk of narrowing the internal carotid artery or carotid artery stenosis.
Cardiac Monitoring: Supportive care is required through an electronic device to monitor heart rhythm and heart rate.
Recognizing the stroke signs and providing necessary treatment on time, can save older adults’ lives. Sometimes, the symptoms can be controlled through some modifications in daily schedule or diet. In that case, you need to encourage them to incorporate the required changes.
Recovery can take around six months to one year in seniors. It requires intensive and focused care at home or a rehabilitation center. Occupational, speech, and physical therapies may help improve the seniors’ emotional, mental, and physical conditions.
Stroke in seniors is a significant concern as it is associated with multiple health conditions and poor functional outcomes. Providing older people with prompt treatment and early action will help manage the symptoms effectively, save and improve the quality of their life.