5 Facts Caregivers Need to Know About Strokes

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When becoming a caregiver for someone with health issues or physical disabilities, it’s essential to learn about the health complications your loved one can be susceptible to so you know how to handle that situation accordingly. 

Strokes are one of the most common diseases in the US, and having a stroke can severely affect major organs like the heart and brain. 

Here are five common facts about strokes that will provide caregivers with the information they need to care for their loved ones.

 

Fact #1: Those who have cardiovascular problems are more likely to have a stroke.

Those who have high cholesterol or high blood pressure are at a greater risk of having a stroke in their lifetime. 

According to data collected from 2015 to 2018, around 94 million American adults had total cholesterol levels of 200mg/dL and above. The healthy range of total cholesterol in adults aged 19 and older is less than 200mg/dL. 

Thus, as a caregiver, it’s important to manage these conditions in your loved ones to reduce their risk of having a stroke and enhance their overall health.  

 

Fact #2: More than 795,000 people have a stroke every year in the United States.

Out of these 795,000 people, 610,000 of them are first-time strokes.  In addition, every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke, and someone has a stroke every 40 seconds.  

For caregivers, these statistics mean that strokes are fairly common in the United States, especially among those who have pre-existing health and physical conditions.

 

Fact #3: Strokes are more common in certain demographic groups

In a 2021 report, the rates of strokes were higher among black people, with 4.9% of women and 4.1% of men having a stroke in comparison to 2.3% of white men and 2.5% of women. 

These demographics are important to note for caregivers because it provides them with patterns that they can analyze and plan lifestyle changes accordingly to prevent a stroke from occurring.

 

Fact #4: There are different kinds of strokes

The two most common types of strokes are ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes

Approximately 87% of strokes are ischemic, and they happen when blood flow to the brain is blocked. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when an artery in the brain bursts, putting pressure on brain cells. These kinds of strokes account for about 10% of strokes. 

There is also another kind of stroke, known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, and this is when blood flow to the brain is blocked for a short period of time. Having this kind of stroke increases the probability of having a more serious stroke later on. In fact, up to 15% of people will have a major stroke within three months of having a TIA. For caregivers, knowing these warning signs is essential to lowering your loved one's chances of having a major stroke. 

 

Fact #5: There are several risk factors for strokes 

(Note: Unfortunately, while some warning signs of a stroke can be evident as early as a week before it happens, such as vision changes and numbness in extremities, most warning signs happen suddenly)

1 in 3 people have at least one of these conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, or smoking, all of which increase the likelihood of having a stroke

In addition, people with these conditions have a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, which are a leading cause of death. 

Knowing the risk factors for strokes is the best way to prevent them from happening in the future. This information is vital for caregivers as well because knowing their loved one’s specific risk factors helps them monitor their condition by taking their medications as prescribed and getting routine check-ups.

Suraya Hammoudeh, PharmD

Suraya Hammoudeh, PharmD, specializes in helping people learn more about health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. She enjoys using her writing skills to communicate complex health and medical topics to different audiences. Suraya received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-School of Pharmacy and her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Michigan, where she graduated with high distinction.

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