A stroke is a life threatening disease that occurs when blood stops flowing to a part of your brain. The area of your brain left damaged and amount of damage has a direct impact a stroke has on your health and body.
The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls various body functions. The result of a stroke can have an impact on physical functions, communication, emotional and behavioural challenges. These may be paralysis, speech and language problems, memory loss and visual impairment.
There are many different faces of stroke and can affect men, women and children. 9 in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for stroke. Knowing your risks of stroke can have a major impact for prevention. High risk for stroke include unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, stress, drug and alcohol abuse. Small, healthy changes to your lifestyle can reduce the risk of having a stroke.
Speak to your healthcare provider about ways to manage high risk activities, such as a smoking cessation program. Manage existing conditions that are high risk for stroke such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes with medication, treatment and continue to make healthy choices. Find resources or groups within your community to support healthy behaviors.
There are some risk factors you cannot change that contribute to stroke. The older you are the higher your chance is for having a stroke. For females your risk of stroke increases after menopause. If you have a family history, for example a relative who had a stroke your chances increase significantly. People of African and South Asian heritage have a higher risk because they are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease at a younger age.
In the event of a loved one having a stroke, having the proper care and support for their recovery is important for success. Having a stroke team is ideal when it comes to information about whether or not they are ready to safely exercise. A physiotherapist can help you choose a safe and effective program by assessing their personal goals, medical conditions, and abilities. Find a suitable stroke recovery support group to deal with the emotional toll recovery has on your loved one and family.
A stroke is a major life event affecting different abilities in your day to day life. It affects each person differently. Learn about the different physical changes they might experience and ways to manage them. Physical changes can include communication, using your arms and legs, swallowing, bowl and bladder movement. Everyday tasks such as bathing, bathing and grooming may require assistive devices to help you safely perform these activities on your own such as a special shower chair, or an electric shaver for shaving.
Physical and cognitive changes after a stroke can manifest in difficulties when planning and preparing meals. An occupational therapist can help you find devices and strategies to help you manage meal times more independently and safely in the kitchen.
There might be a time in your recovery you may want to return to work. An occupational therapist or vocational counselor can help you decide if you are ready or not. Some key areas will be taken into consideration such as your ability to do a job. They may look at your physical ability, cognitive, communication, emotional ability and ability to get around.
Once your team has established it is time to return to work, figure out what is possible for you in terms of how many hours you would like to put in, part time work or adaptations required for your workplace.
Consistency is key is maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk factors that can lead to having a stroke. Be mindful when managing your daily life by making time for exercising, eating meals rich in vegetables, fruits, wholesome whole grains and proteins. Take some time out to relax or meditate, it helps with reducing the day’s stress. Avoid excessive alcohol and speak to your health care provider about help with substance abuse. These little lifestyle changes can help you not only feel better but prevent heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.
FAST is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke.