Warning Signs of Strokes in Seniors
Strokes are some of the most frightening and difficult conditions that can impact today’s seniors. Strokes are sudden, frightening and can often lead to hospitalization, permanent damage or even death. How do strokes happen? They occur when there is a low blood supply to the brain, meaning the brain isn’t getting the oxygen that it needs to function and ultimately survive.
Strokes can impact people of all different ages and backgrounds, but they, unfortunately, are most common among seniors. There are several other risk factors for strokes. The more you know about these risk factors the better prepared you will be for the possible onset of a stroke in your elderly loved one. Common risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Not getting enough exercise
- Alcohol use or abuse
- Recreational drug use
- Smoking or general tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart defects
- People over the age of 55
- Being African American
Men are also at a higher risk of having a stroke than women. Many times strokes are so sudden that people assume there is nothing that could have been done and that there were no warning signs. However, in some situations, there are some warning signs and indicators that a stroke is about to hit. These are important to note as the sooner you are able to help your loved one get the care and attention they need when suffering from a stroke, the less likely it is that they will suffer from serious or permanent damage.
The faster you are able to react when you see the warning signs of a stroke, the better. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms:
- Difficulty talking
- Slurred speech
- Severe, pounding headache with a quick onset
- Dizziness or vomiting
- Being in an altered state
- Vision issues including vision loss or blurriness in one or both eyes
- Double vision
- Issues with walking or standing
- Stumbling or severe vertigo
- Sudden numbness
- Paralysis, especially on one side of the body
- Paralysis in the face
- Drooping on one side of the face
There are three main different types of strokes. Ischemic strokes are the most common and occur when an artery in the brain is narrowed or blocked leading to low oxygen to the brain. This either occurs because of a blood clot in clogged arteries or when a blood clot occurs in the heart and travels to the vessels of the brain.
Hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, happens when a blood vessel in the brain starts to leak or suddenly bursts. This can happen in those who have high blood pressure or who are taking too many blood thinners. A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), on the other hand, is a temporary interruption of the blood supply to the brain. It is often called a mini-stroke. It typically only lasts for around five minutes, and while there are typically no long-term side effects, seniors should still see a doctor, as reoccurring mini-strokes are often a sign of a much more serious condition.
The more seniors know about strokes and stroke causes, the better prepared they will be when it comes to handling these issues and preventing them from happening in the first place.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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