Whoever coined the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” certainly never suffered a stroke. Along with being the number two cause of death worldwide, strokes are also a leading cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association.

This comes as no surprise to Kindred. We treat thousands of stroke victims every year at our inpatient rehabilitation settings and transitional care hospitals. And whether we are putting patients through rigorous rehabilitation and therapy to help them regain functionality or giving them the longer recovery time needed after a severe stroke, in both settings we strive to help individuals achieve their highest level of independence possible.

Stroke remains unpredictable yet potentially life-ending or life-changing. That’s why everyone should understand not only the symptoms of a stroke for quick medical intervention but also the lifestyle factors that contribute to stroke risk. Because in the case of strokes, the best recourse is prevention, and the next best is early intervention.

What to Know About a Stroke

What is a stroke?

Stroke, which happens to be the leading cause of disability in the U.S., is a sudden interruption of blood to the brain, usually caused by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) but sometimes caused by a bleed into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). Whichever the reason for the disruption of blood flow to the brain, it is important to get the right treatment as soon as possible to prevent as much brain damage as possible. Ideally, a victim should be given clot-busting medicine for an ischemic stroke within three hours of initial stroke symptoms.

How do I recognize a stroke?

Early intervention is only possible if the stroke victim or those around the individual learn and recognize the warning signs of a stroke. To help educate and build awareness, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association created its F.A.S.T. acronym, which highlights three common symptoms and one call to action:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Slurred speech
  • Time to call 911

What lifestyle factors contribute to stroke risk?

First, the bad news: a number of factors many of us share contribute to stroke risk. The good news? Most if not all of these factors can be lessened or mitigated through lifestyle changes, better choices or in some cases, proper medications.

Here are some of the top lifestyle factors that contribute to stroke risk:

  • high blood pressure
  • cigarette smoking
  • diabetes
  • high blood cholesterol levels
  • heavy drinking
  • a diet high in fat (particularly saturated) and salt, but low in fiber, fruit and vegetables
  • lack of regular exercise
  • obesity

What are things I should do to best recover from a stroke?

Immediately following a stroke, you or your loved one may feel that learning to talk, swallow, use arms or walk again seem out of reach. But stroke recovery is possible.

At a traditional hospital, the main goal is to stabilize your loved one’s condition so he or she can begin the road to recovery. Following that, whether you or your loved one receives care in an inpatient rehabilitation setting, transitional care hospitals or another setting depends upon the individual’s needs. The care provider will help set goals for recovery, focus on progress and achieve those milestones on a daily basis so you or your loved one can make functional improvements and achieve the highest potential possible.

At Kindred hospitals and inpatient rehabilitation facilities, our expert teams of medical professionals works with patients to help them physically, mentally and emotionally. Stroke recovery with us includes: 

  • An individualized plan of care for you or your loved one’s specific needs
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy available up to seven days a week
  • Healthy lifestyle programs such as nutrition assessments, smoking cessation, stress and weight reduction
  • A progressive exercise regimen tailored to fit your abilities
  • On-site case management
  • Patient and family education

And no matter what the Kindred setting, you and your loved one are always an essential part of the care team. You can help motivate yourself or your loved one to commit to the treatment, attend all scheduled therapy sessions and consistently complete any exercises assigned. At times, there may be challenges during the recovery process, and this is where you can contribute the most by helping keep a positive attitude.

Kindred is also a proud partner of the American Stroke Association, and a national sponsor of its Together We End Stroke initiative, which focuses on stroke prevention (80% of strokes are preventable), stroke treatment (including research) and preventing stroke recurrence through recovery and risk reduction.

If you would like to know more about Kindred Hospitals are the care we provide, visit www.kindredhospitals.com.

By Kindred Healthcare