When a Stroke Strikes, Follow These Steps

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When a Stroke Strikes, Follow These Steps

March 27, 2019
The key to preventing death or disability after a stroke is to seek help as soon as possible. For seniors and caregivers, it’s important to know the symptoms and respond immediately because older adults have a high risk for long-term hospitalizations, disability, or mortality as a result.

What is a stroke?
Strokes happen when blood supply to the brain is blocked, depriving it of oxygen and killing brain cells. You can identify a stroke and act quickly by remembering the acronym “FAST,” which stands for:

F – Face Drooping. If one side of someone’s face droops or becomes numb, ask them to smile. If they’re able to smile, check their facial expression to see if it’s uneven or lopsided.
A – Arm Weakness. One arm may become weak or numb. Ask them to raise both arms and see if one drifts downward.
S – Speech. Slurred speech common during a stroke. Ask them to repeat a simple sentence back to you for clarity.
T – Time to Call 9-1-1. When someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, go to the hospital immediately.

Can I prevent strokes?
“The first step is to make sure the right medications are in place,” says InnovAge Virginia Medical Director Dr. Randy Ferrance. “Prescriptions can address main risk factors for stroke, which are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and small clots in arteries that supply blood to the brain.”

Because many health factors can contribute to a stroke, an interdisciplinary approach to treatment can help seniors maintain a healthy lifestyle and control other conditions that increase risk, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

“At InnovAge, our care team works together with seniors and caregivers after a stroke to create a treatment plan tailored to their needs,” says InnovAge Regional Medical Officer Dr. Luz Ramos-Bonner.

Interdisciplinary treatment after a stroke can include:
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Rehabilitation is often necessary to recover any loss in mobility or speech after a stroke. Regular exercise can also improve strength and stability.
  • Nutrition advice. Improve your diet by planing healthy meals that are both high in fruits and vegetables and low in salt and cholesterol.
  • Resources for a healthier lifestyle. Ask your doctors and social workers to provide tools and ongoing support to help you quit unhealthy habits that increase risk, like smoking and drinking.

Following a stroke, continue to discuss health goals with your doctor, check in on your progress, and adjust treatment as needed.
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