An individual’s risk of stroke increases with age. As Singapore’s senior population grows, it is essential that people can recognise the early signs of this disease. This will help elderly loved ones receive the immediate medical attention they need to prevent long-term damage.
In this guide, we explain how individuals can quickly identify stroke symptoms. We also discuss the long-term effects of stroke as well as the factors that influence the recovery rate among stroke survivors.
1. What is a Stroke?
A stroke is a cerebrovascular disease characterised by the formation of a blood clot or sudden rupture of an artery. When this occurs, oxygen circulation is disrupted, damaging cells. Depending on the type of stroke and how quickly treatment is received, functional impairments may either be temporary or permanent.
2. Types of Stroke
Stroke is classified into two major types – ischemic and hemorrhagic.
- Ischemic stroke – Caused by blood clotting that blocks blood flow in certain areas of the brain.
- Hemorrhagic stroke – Caused by an arterial rupture which produces internal bleeding within the brain or between the brain and skull.
While both types of stroke require rehabilitation, individuals are more likely to suffer from permanent damage or develop severe disabilities from a hemorrhagic stroke. This is because the arterial rupture causes excessive pressure on the brain.
Additionally, a mild type of stroke known as Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) or ministroke happens when there is a brief interruption of blood flow to the brain. This may cause temporary stroke-like symptoms but often does not lead to permanent long-term effects.
In all cases, seeking immediate medical attention is the best way to minimize the severity and long-term impacts of any stroke.
3. Common Causes of Stroke
Old age, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and existing medical conditions are the more common causes of stroke. Cardiovascular disease, in particular, is closely linked to higher stroke incidence since they share similar risk factors.
The common contributors to heart disease and stroke include:
- Cholesterol imbalance
- Chronic stress
- Inadequate cardiovascular exercise
4. Symptoms: Early Signs of Stroke
Recognising the early signs of a stroke is essential to preventing further brain damage. The acronym B.E. F.A.S.T. can help you assess and detect strokes more easily:
- Balance – Poor coordination, dizziness, and migraines are all potential signs of a stroke. Ask the person to walk a short distance. Pay attention to whether they lean more on one side of their body.
- Eyes – Check their periphery to find blind spots and ask if they are having difficulty seeing.
- Face – Ask the person to smile and check for facial asymmetry or drooping of one side of the face.
- Arms – Ask the person if they can feel both their arms to check for numbness. You may also ask the person to bring their arms forward and observe if they have difficulty doing so.
- Speech – Ask them to repeat a phrase or sentence. Check for slurred speech or problems in speech comprehension.
- Time – It is advisable to call 995 immediately when any of these symptoms are present. Treating strokes as soon as possible can reduce health risks and impairment.
5. Why Time is Crucial During a Stroke
Delayed medical support can leave stroke patients in worse condition and with more severe disabilities. An estimated 1.9 million brain cells die for every minute that a stroke is left untreated. Within the first hour, the brain drastically ages by 3.6 years, which can have detrimental effects for senior adults.
Additionally, patients are only eligible for certain treatment options like tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) within the first few hours of stroke onset. While medical specialists can use alternative procedures, responding quickly to stroke symptoms helps prevent further brain damage and medical complications.
6. The Long-Term Effects of Stroke
Patients should be aware of the long-term effects of stroke that may slow down recovery. You may experience:
- Aphasia (impaired speech comprehension and/or ability)
- Changes in personality
- Cognitive impairment
- Hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body)
- Higher risk of depression
- Limited mobility
- Poor memory retention
- Sensory deficits
- Visual problems
Fortunately, consistent rehabilitation and proper medical guidance help stroke survivors improve their conditions over time.
7. The Recovery Rate of Stroke Patients
Individuals who have suffered from an ischemic stroke have a 31% survival rate and experience around 70% of full recovery within 3-6 months. On the other hand, hemorrhagic stroke survivors have a 24% survival rate and tend to have much slower recovery periods.
Although ageing brains are still capable of self-repair after a stroke, elderly patients are more likely to develop disabilities. Existing health conditions, stroke severity, age, gender as well as motivation and commitment to stroke recovery exercises play a role in an elderly patient’s potential for a full recovery.
8. Recurrent Stroke Prevention
Preventing a second stroke is critical to survival and the quality of life for stroke patients. Research suggests that individuals are at higher risk of experiencing a second stroke within 3 months of the initial stroke. It is important to closely monitor ageing loved ones during this time since a recurrent stroke may lead to severe brain damage and other medical complications. Read our stroke rehabilitation guide to know more about post-stroke treatment and care options, including preventing recurrence, and our home care guide for stroke for care tips to help your loved ones recover from a stroke at home.
9. Ninkatec’s Home Care Services for Stroke Patients
As one of the top healthcare companies in Singapore, Ninkatec provides quality and cost-effective home care services for stroke patients to recover conveniently at home, including:
- Nursing care for stroke patients at home
- Palliative care for stroke
- Physiotherapy, speech therapy and other rehabilitation therapies as required by stroke patients
Our goal is to help clients cope with their medical conditions by offering a personalised care plan most suited to their needs:
- Virtual Care – For 24/7 virtual support and remote monitoring of clients who experienced a mild stroke.
- Right at Home – For stroke patients who require minimal living assistance and only need monthly check-ups from a doctor.
- Close Connect – For elderly clients who have suffered a severe stroke and need extensive living assistance with daily medical supervision.
10. Ninkatec Supports Stroke Recovery at Home
Recognising the earliest signs of a stroke is crucial in preventing severe brain damage. By using the B.E. F.A.S.T. method, stroke patients can receive immediate medical attention – decreasing the risk of long-lasting impairments. Our Stroke Care Team at Ninkatec ensure that stroke patients are provided with the necessary medical assistance and care for their recovery while their loved ones can have a peace of mind