Despite advances in modern medicine, medications and medical technology, stroke is still one of the leading causes of disabilities and reduced quality of life in older adults. The incidence of stroke disease increases with age, in both men and women, with approximately fifty percent of all strokes occurring in people over the age of seventy-five and thirty percent over age eighty-five.
Types of Strokes in Seniors
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to parts of the brain is interrupted or reduced, thereby preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients and causing brain cells to begin to die in numbers.
There are three main types of stroke:
- Ischemic Stroke: This happens when the brain’s blood vessels become narrowed or blocked causing severely reduced blood flow. Blocked or narrowed blood vessels are caused by fatty deposits, blood clots and other debris that lodge in the blood vessels of the brain.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke: Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures.
Brain leaks or ruptures are caused by-
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- Over treatment with blood thinners(anticoagulants)
- Bulges at weak spots in the blood vessel walls(aneurysms)
- Trauma(such as a car accident)
- Ischemic stroke leading to hemorrhage,
Some older adults may have only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain this is known as
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): A transient ischemic attack (TIA) sometimes known as a mini stroke, is a temporary period of symptoms similar to those that would be experienced in a stroke. A TIA doesn’t cause permanent damage like an ischemic stroke, a TIA occurs when a clot or debris reduces or blocks blood flow to parts of the nervous system.
Emergency attention should be sought if it is suspected that an older adult showed symptoms of TIA even if the symptoms get better.
Causes and Risk Factors of Stroke in Seniors
Generally, older adults are more likely to be affected stroke if they:
- are overweight or obese
- have a family history of stroke
- high blood pressure
- have high cholesterol
- have diabetes
- have heart disease
- consume excessive alcohol
- smoke or use illicit drugs
Knowing the Signs of a Stroke
Seek medical attention immediately if your loved one shows any of these symptoms:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Prevention of Stroke in Seniors
Older adults can achieve the prevention of a stroke by:
- Eating a healthful diet
- Maintaining a moderate weight
- Not smoking tobacco
- Avoiding alcohol totally or taking it in moderate quantities
- Exercising regularly
- Controlling blood pressure levels
Although the chances of having a stroke is especially high in older adults, directed actions to manage risks and facilitate age-appropriate treatment can reduce its occurrence and impact.
While these may affect the quality of life to a certain extent, we believe that it should not stop you or your loved one from living a meaningful life. We are committed to providing the care that’s right; we are committed to supporting families in any situation.