Knowing the symptoms of a stroke in its early stages may save your life and those around you, as a stroke in the elderly is one of the most common causes of sudden death.
Everyone should be aware of the symptoms of a brain stroke and the steps to take the correct course of action in the event of suspicious Stroke .
Strokes are the leading cause of permanent disabilities in the elderly, so a stroke is a severe condition that requires rapid treatment without any delay. Remember that prevention is better than treatment, so how is stroke prevented in the elderly before it occurs, and How are they treated when they occur?
What is ischemic stroke?
In healthy people, the arteries feed the brain with sufficient amounts of oxygen-containing blood so that the nerve cells can perform their functions well and the person can live independently without any problems.
When there is a lack of oxygen supply to the brain, neurons begin to suffer, and they may survive for a short period without oxygen (a few minutes) until they die. Once neurons are damaged, bringing them back to life or replacing them is impossible.
A thrombus may form that blocks the arterial vessel, impedes the flow of blood through the arteries feeding the brain, and stops the supply of sufficient food to the brain, so the cells die, and the symptoms of a brain stroke begin to appear in adults.
Ischemic stroke is a type of stroke in the elderly, as the stroke is divided into two main types, namely: ischemic stroke Which we will talk about in our article and another type known with cerebral hemorrhage.
Symptoms of ischemic stroke in the elderly
All of us should be aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke because of its seriousness and potential consequences for the lives of those who suffer from it, especially the elderly, so that we can seek help as soon as possible.
When a person suffers from a stroke, they usually show one of these symptoms:
- A sudden feeling of numbness and muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg (often in either the right or left side of the body)
- Confusion and difficulty speaking or understanding
- Vision problems in one or both eyes (blurred vision or visual impairment and blindness may occur)
- A severe headache appeared suddenly without any reason
- Difficulty walking and maintaining body balance
- Nausea and vomiting
A brain stroke patient may have one or more of these symptoms, characterized by their sudden appearance. It is preferable to remember when the symptoms of a brain stroke begin to appear, as this may help determine an appropriate treatment plan in the hospital.
Causes of ischemic stroke in the elderly
As mentioned earlier, artery blockage with a thrombus that prevents blood flow to the brain is the main cause of ischemic stroke in the elderly. Many risk factors may contribute to the occurrence of ischemic stroke, including:
Atherosclerosis is one of the most important causes of brain stroke in the elderly. This disease causes the accumulation of fatty plaques around the walls of blood vessels, which causes the arterial vessel to narrow or become completely blocked, so the symptoms of a brain stroke appear.
The cause of this disease is still not fully understood. Still, several factors have been linked to increasing the chances of its occurrence, such as smoking, obesity, high levels of lipids in the blood, excessive drinking of alcohol, and diabetes mellitus.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is a common disease that raises the risk of a sudden stroke in the elderly, especially when it is not well controlled with the necessary medications. Therefore, it is essential not to neglect high blood pressure treatment for fear that the person may suffer several complications from high pressure, including stroke.
Atrial fibrillation is a common heart rhythm disorder in the elderly, as the heart muscle beats inconsistently between its two chambers (the ventricle and the atrium), leading to blood clots in the heart. These clots may travel to the brain through blood circulation, causing a sudden stroke.
Weight gain, smoking, and eating unhealthy food containing large amounts of fat may raise the risk of stroke for the elderly, as the elderly are more likely to suffer a stroke than the young.
Ischemic stroke diagnosis
As soon as the patient arrives at the hospital, the ambulance doctors assess the patient's condition, vital signs, and symptoms, and then these tests are performed as soon as possible:
This test helps determine the type of stroke the patient suffers from, as the cerebral hemorrhage appears on the CT image as a white density. Brain bleeding is more challenging to treat than ischemic stroke.
Neurological and physical examination
One of the tests conducted for stroke patients includes listening to heartbeats and measuring blood pressure, in addition to a neurological examination that includes brain functions in the elderly such as the ability to move the limbs and examining the five senses and memory.
MRI of the brain
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is characterized by its ability to detect brain stroke in older adults, both hemorrhagic and ischemic (stroke). This device uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce clear images of brain tissue and detect abnormal changes in the brain.
How to treat ischemic stroke in adults
When a patient with symptoms of a stroke comes to the hospital, the medical team first checks for the type of stroke, if it was caused by bleeding in the brain or due to an ischemic stroke, through brain x-rays.
If the cause of the stroke is due to ischemic stroke, the location of the clot is determined in the brain, after which one of the following treatments can be resorted to:
Injection of a drug that dissolves the clot
This treatment method is only effective if applied within the first 5 hours of the onset of symptoms, and the earlier the start, the better the effectiveness of this treatment.
The doctor injects a drug that dissolves the clot to restore normal blood flow to the brain. This drug is known as alteplase which is given by intravenous injection and is considered the gold standard in treating ischemic stroke when diagnosed quickly in the elderly.
Resolving a brain clot quickly may prevent brain tissue damage that causes complications and moderate to severe disabilities in the elderly.
Emergency surgery on the brain
Sometimes, within advanced neuro centers, surgery may be performed to treat a brain stroke in the elderly through interference within the blood vessels and access to the blocked artery, after which drugs that dissolve the clot can be injected directly into the vessel containing the clot. This procedure remains effective after the occurrence of the stroke for a longer time than Injecting the drug into a vein.
It is also possible to remove a brain clot by using a catheter inserted through the femoral artery to the cerebral artery, which is blocked by a clot. This catheter is equipped with a clot extractor stent, which is helpful in large clots. It may be combined with thrombolytic medication; you can watch a video about this procedure At the bottom.
Rehabilitation of stroke patients
As we mentioned earlier, a brain stroke is mainly responsible for disabilities in the elderly, whether they are motor disabilities (paralysis) or neurological. Therefore, rehabilitation after a brain stroke in the elderly is essential.
Rehabilitation of the elderly with stroke is a long-term treatment that may take months or years and is done through sessions with specialists in this field. You can read more about Neurorehabilitation after a stroke.
Preventing a stroke before it happens
It is sometimes difficult to treat a stroke and avoid its complications when the elderly suffer from it, so prevention has a better role than treatment and is done through the following:
- Control your high blood pressure
- A healthy diet without too much fat and salt
- Healthy heart muscle
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight
- Monitor your blood cholesterol level
A brain stroke in the elderly is a serious condition that must be given particular importance because it can change the patient’s life forever. Each of us must be aware of the symptoms of a stroke to be able to detect it as soon as possible, so The chances of the patient surviving stroke complications increase. A stroke may form for several reasons, and by avoiding these causes, strokes can be prevented as much as possible.