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When Stroke Happens
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer
Strokes, or “brain attacks,” disable
Americans more than any other disease. With an
interruption of blood to the brain, a stroke may have
similar symptoms; but as everyone’s brain is different,
so are the effects of each person’s stroke.
There is no rhyme or reason to the
severity of strokes or to the recovery a person may need
to undergo. Stroke damage can affect a loved one’s
entire body and cause a wide range of disabilities, from
mild to severe. Paralysis, difficulty thinking and
speaking, as well as a multitude of emotional issues are
just some of the challenges a caregiver can expect to
see a loved one experience post-stroke.
Learning to help through this
transitional period with optimism and organization will
make life easier, and happier, for both caregiver and
Even though each loved one has a
different experience after a stroke, they have one thing
in common: life is changed in some way or another. It’s
important a caregiver know which type of stroke their
loved one is facing, so symptoms, precautions and/or
treatments can be tailored accordingly.
There are two kinds of major strokes.
The most common, an ischemic stroke, is caused by a
blood clot which blocks a brain’s blood vessel. The
other, a hemorrhagic stroke, is caused when a blood
vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain.
A different stroke, commonly known as a
“mini-stroke,” is the TIA, or Transient Ischemic Attack.
These should be taken as seriously as a major stroke
because they are usually a precursor of what’s to come.
The only difference is that in a TIA, the blockage in
the blood vessel is temporary and the incident lasts
less than five minutes— usually a minute.
Many strokes are not preceded by a TIA,
but one-third of people who experience a TIA will
experience a major stroke within a year. There are many
new technologies available today to help prevent serious
damage if the stroke is caught early on. Knowing the
symptoms and signs may spare a loved one from permanent
brain damage. Professionals say “time lost is brain
lost” and that if a person is even suspected of having a
stroke, call 911 immediately and don’t wait for symptoms
to clear up.
Here are the main symptoms of a major
stroke and TIA:
Sudden numbness or weakness in face,
arms or legs, especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking
Sudden trouble seeing
Sudden trouble walking as well as
dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden, severe headache