Post Stroke Complications

There are many challenges that stroke survivors must face . Along with the wide variety of physical challenges and limitations, survivors must deal with cognitive (mental) and emotional challenges as well. But in order to begin healing and recovering from a stroke, life-threatening complications must be treated and managed properly.

Some of the complications below can result because of the brain injury that has occurred, while other complications result from certain inabilities, such as the inability to move freely as one may have done so prior to a stroke. Stroke survivors and their caretakers should take note of these complications and discuss any concerns or treatment options with healthcare providers.

Swelling of the Brain (Brain Edema): Swelling causes pressure on the brain, which can cause death. This typically occurs just days after a stroke and is more typical in patients who suffer a hemorrhagic stroke (blood in the brain).

Aspiration Pneumonia: After a stroke, it can be very difficult to swallow. This condition is referred to as dysphagia , which makes it possible to inhale fluid or food into the lungs. When this happens it can cause an infection in the lungs, and therefore pneumonia. Feeding tubes, respiratory and swallowing therapy, and deep breathing exercises can all be utilized to prevent pneumonia.

Blood Clots: Due to a lack of mobility after a stroke, blood clots can form in the large veins of the legs. This is called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. If the blood clot comes loose, it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. It’s important to take preventative measures to prevent blood clots, which can include anti-clotting medications and/or compression so cks.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Incontinence (the inability to control the bladder) may require the patient to use a urinary catheter. A catheter is a thin tube that is inserted into the bladder, and if not taken care of properly and kept clean, bacteria can enter the urinary system and cause an infection. Keeping the catheter clean, making sure healthcare providers clean their hands before taking care of the patient, and making sure the bag holding the urine is kept lower than the tubes (to prevent urine from flowing back into the tube and bladder) are a few preventative measures.

Seizures: A malfunction of brain activity after a stroke can cause involuntary movements, or convulsions. If seizures become chronic it can develop into epilepsy. Treatment for seizures typically includes medication.

Hydrocephalus: This is the buildup of spinal fluid (cerebrospinal spinal fluid, or CSF) in the brain. This fluid is produced in the brain to protect the brain and to carry waste away, but damage caused by a hemorrhagic stroke can cause problems with the normal drainage of this fluid. Symptoms include headaches, nausea and vomiting, and loss of balance. A tube in the brain can help drain the fluid.

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