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Stroke in the Elderly: Signs You Should Not Ignore

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A stroke is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Read the article below to learn more about how it affects the elderly and its management.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Abhishek Juneja

Published At March 9, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 9, 2023

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke is as serious as a heart attack, and it is essential to know the signs of stroke, and individuals should act quickly. Stroke is considered the fourth leading cause of death and leads to more serious long-term disabilities of other diseases. Elderly individuals are at high risk of getting a stroke. A stroke occurs when something changes how the blood flows through the brain. Blood is the mainstream that contains oxygen and nutrients and carries them to the organs and brain cells. Stroke leads to restricted blood flow to the brain cells, causing less oxygen supply to the brain, and can lead to death. If brain cells lack oxygen for a short time, it can get better with some time. Brain cells that have died can be brought back to life. A stroke may lead to trouble speaking, thinking, and walking.

What Are the Causes of Stroke?

The causes of stroke are:

  • Clotting disorders.

  • Atrial fibrillation.

  • Atherosclerosis.

  • Microvascular ischemic disease.

  • Heart defects.

  • High blood pressure.

  • Brain tumors.

  • Barin aneurysms.

  • Moyamoya disease (a disease that causes unusual changes in a blood vessel in the brain).

What Are the Types of Stroke?

Different types of stroke are as follows:

  • Ischemic Stroke: When a blood vessel that supplies the brain gets "clogged," it prevents blood flow to a portion of the brain, resulting in an ischemic stroke. Lack of oxygen and nutrition causes the brain's cells and tissues to die within minutes. Ischemic strokes can also be split into two categories:

    • Thrombotic strokes: They are brought on by a blood clot that forms in the brain's blood arteries.

    • Embolic strokes: They are brought on by a blood clot or plaque fragment that forms in another part of the body and moves via the bloodstream to one of the blood arteries in the brain.

  • Transient Ischemic Stroke: This is referred to as a ministroke, which occurs when the blood flow to the brain is blocked temporarily. They are typically temporary and disappear after a few minutes to hours. The blood clot usually causes this type of stroke.

  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: This happens when an artery in the brain breaks open and leaks blood. The blood from the artery creates excess pressure in the skull, making the brain swell. Damaging brain cells and tissues. There are two main categories for hemorrhagic strokes, which include the following:

    • Intracerebral hemorrhage: The blood arteries in the brain are where bleeding originates.

    • Subarachnoid hemorrhage: The bleeding is in the subarachnoid area (the area between the membranes that protect the brain and the brain itself)

What Are the Signs of Stroke in the Elderly?

The signs of stroke in elderly individuals are:

  • Sudden eye issues (vision problems) in one or both eyes.

  • Numbness in limbs and face commonly affects one side of the body.

  • Lack of coordination.

  • Communication difficulty.

  • Severe headaches.

These symptoms can act as red indications in the elderly. If individuals experience signs, it is essential to contact the healthcare provider immediately. Getting immediate care is important for lessening brain damage and getting positive outcomes.

How Do Symptoms of Women and Men Differ in Stroke?

Women experience different stroke symptoms than men, and they have a high fatality rate when it comes to stroke. Around 60 % of women die from a stroke, while men are just 40 %. Women are more prone to it, and stroke kills women twice as many as breast cancer. The additional symptoms experienced by women are:

  • Sudden nausea.

  • Sudden shortness of breath.

  • Sudden chest pain.

  • Sudden hiccups.

  • Sudden palpitations.

How to Lower the Risk of Stroke?

Risk factors for stroke include race, age, and family history, which are controlled. Changes to lower the risk of stroke.

  • Control the blood pressure: If it is high, blood pressure needs to be reduced. Treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Control diabetes: Untreated diabetes can damage blood vessels and leads to narrowed arteries and stroke.

  • Control cholesterol: High cholesterol has to be reduced. Cholesterol is a thin blood fat that can build up on the walls of arteries. This can block the flow of blood and lead to stroke.

  • Eat healthy foods: Foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits every day.

  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity is a part of everyone’s life. A brisk walk, bicycle ride, and swimming can help to reduce risk. Exercising and vigorous programs and increased physical activity can help.

If an individual had a stroke in the past, It is important to reduce the risk of a second stroke. The brain helps to recover from a stroke by drawing on body systems. The second stroke can be worse.

What Diet Should an Elderly Take To Reduce the Risk of Stroke?

Along with other lifestyle changes, smoking cessation, and exercise are important. Highlight diet is the recent recognition of the interaction between the intestinal microbiome, age, and renal function. Dietary patterns that are strongest in affecting stroke prevention are vegetarians and the Mediterranean diet, which is a high-fat diet, having a low glycemic index diet. For secondary vascular prevention in individuals with coronary heart diseases, a Mediterranean diet and replacement of butter with canola margarine in reducing 60 % of stroke and myocardial infarction are achieved. The primary prevention is achieved by supplying the Mediterranean diet with nuts reducing stroke by 46 % over five years. Recent research has stated the important role of the intestinal microbiome in atherosclerosis, which provides a new reason to limit the consumption of meat and egg yolk. Switching from red meat to a non-meat diet or white meat can significantly reduce the levels of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) within a month.

Conclusion:

Strokes are increasing commonly with age. They can be fatal more often, and they can leave individuals disabled. A great deal is learned about the risk of stroke as people age. There are several well-proven things that they can do to lower the risk. Risk reduction is a combination of medical advice and prescription medicines. In some cases, with a large dose of lifestyle decisions, it is important for individuals to prevent the ever-present danger of healthy aging.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Happens When Someone Has a Stroke?

A stroke happens when the brain lacks enough blood, either because of a blockage (ischemia) or bleeding (hemorrhage). Because of this, brain cells fail to receive enough air and food, which can hurt or kill them. 

2.

How to Tell if Someone Is Having a Stroke?

The symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or limb (particularly on one side of the body), difficulty speaking or understanding speech, confusion, dizziness, a severe headache with no known cause, and difficulty walking or standing upright.

3.

How High Does Blood Pressure Need to Be for It to Cause a Stroke?

There is no certain blood pressure level that directly leads to a stroke. But having high blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for having a stroke. When blood pressure remains elevated for an extended period, it can damage blood vessels and increase their susceptibility to clog or rupture. Keeping blood pressure in a healthy range, generally below 120/80 mmHg is crucial to lowering the risk of stroke.

4.

What to Do if Someone Is Having a Stroke?

Suppose someone has a stroke with signs of a drooping face, weak arms, trouble speaking, and time to summon emergency services. Wait to give the person with stroke anything to eat or drink until medical care arrives, and be sure to record the time the symptoms first appeared. Wait with them and reassure them until help arrives.

5.

What Is Considered a Dangerous Blood Pressure Level for a Stroke?

Blood pressure at the stroke level is very high and must be treated immediately by a doctor. In general, stroke-level blood pressure is a systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 180 mmHg or more or a diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of 120 mmHg or more. 

6.

What Is an Ischemic Stroke?

The most common type of stroke, which makes up about 85 % of all cases, is called an ischemic stroke. It happens when a blood clot or plaque buildup stops a blood vessel feeding the brain. This cuts off blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Lack of blood flow kills brain cells, leading to different stroke signs.

7.

How Long Does It Usually Take To Recover From a Stroke?

Stroke survivors can expect vastly different times to make a full recovery. Some people may recover in a few weeks, while others may take months or years. Crucial to healing are rehabilitation treatments, behavioral adjustments, and medical staff encouragement and support.

8.

What Percentage of Stroke Patients Fully Recover?

Stroke recovery is an individualized journey, and achievable results vary per person, with some achieving complete or maximum recovery while others may remain deficient indefinitely. Rehabilitation approaches, alongside timely intervention and continual assistance, greatly impact the chances for successful recovery. However, predicting an exact percentage presents a challenge due to the extensive range of variables.

9.

How Can Someone Recover From a Stroke More Quickly?

Several variables can aid stroke recovery, but there's no assurance. Early medical intervention, a personalized rehabilitation plan may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, managing risk factors, and seeking emotional support.

10.

Do an Individual Smell Something Unusual When Having a Stroke?

Not everyone with a stroke smells something strange, like a strong, unpleasant smell. The common signs of a stroke are sudden weakness, numbness, paralysis in the face, arm, or leg, trouble speaking or understanding speech, confusion, a strong headache, and problems with coordination or balance.

11.

How Are High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, and Stroke Related?

High blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, and stroke are all linked health problems. Hypertension can stress the blood vessels and raise the chance of heart disease, like coronary artery disease, which can eventually lead to a heart attack. High blood pressure can also hurt the brain's blood vessels, making it more likely that a stroke will happen.

12.

What Makes a Stroke Different From a Heart Attack?

There are differences between a stroke and a heart attack, but both involve problems with how blood flows. A stroke happens when the brain lacks enough blood, while a heart attack occurs when blood can't reach the heart muscle. The symptoms and effects of each disease can be different, but they both need medical help immediately.

13.

How Are High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, and Stroke Related?

High blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, and stroke are linked because they all have similar risk factors and ways of working. Blood pressure that is not under control can lead to heart diseases like coronary artery disease, which raises the risk of a heart attack. High blood pressure can also damage blood vessels all over the body, including the brain. Taking care of the blood pressure and living a heart-healthy life are two of the most important things one can do to avoid these conditions.
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Dr. Abhishek Juneja
Dr. Abhishek Juneja

Neurology

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