Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Stroke facts
- What is a stroke?
- What causes a stroke?
- What are the risk factors for stroke?
- What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- What is the impact of strokes?
- What are stroke symptoms?
- What should be done if you suspect you or someone else is having a stroke?
- How is a stroke diagnosed?
- What is the treatment of a stroke?
- What complications can occur after a stroke?
- What can be done to prevent a stroke?
- What is in the future for stroke treatment?
- Stroke FAQs
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What complications can occur after a stroke?
A stroke can become worse despite an early arrival at the hospital and appropriate medical treatment. Progression of symptoms may be due to brain swelling or bleeding into the brain tissue.
It is not unusual for a stroke and a heart attack to occur at the same time or in very close proximity to each other.
During the acute illness, swallowing may be affected. The weakness that affects the arm, leg, and side of the face can also impact the muscles of swallowing. A stroke that causes slurred speech seems to predispose the patient to abnormal swallowing mechanics. Should food and saliva enter the trachea instead of the esophagus when eating or swallowing, pneumonia or a lung infection can occur. Abnormal swallowing can also occur independently of slurred speech.
Because a stroke often results in immobility, blood clots can develop in a leg vein (deep vein thrombosis). This poses a risk for a clot to travel upwards to and lodge in the lungs -- a potentially life-threatening situation (pulmonary embolism). There are a number of ways in which the treating physician can help prevent these leg vein clots. Prolonged immobility can also lead to pressure sores (a breakdown of the skin, called decubitus ulcers), which can be prevented by frequent repositioning of the patient by the nurse or other caretakers.
Stroke patients often have some problem with depression as part of the recovery process, which needs to be recognized and treated.
The prognosis following a stroke is related to the severity of the stroke and how much of the brain has been damaged as well as complications from the impairment. Some patients return to a near-normal condition with minimal awkwardness or speech defects. Many stroke patients are left with permanent problems such as hemiplegia (weakness on one side of the body), aphasia (difficulty or the inability to speak), or incontinence of the bowel and/or bladder. A significant number of persons become unconscious and die following a major stroke.
If a stroke has been massive or devastating to a person's ability to think or function, the family is left with some very difficult decisions. In these cases, it is sometimes advisable to limit further medical intervention. It is often appropriate for the doctor and the patient's family to discuss and implement orders to not resuscitate the patient in the case of a cardiac arrest, since the quality of life for the patient would be so poor. In many cases, this decision is made somewhat easier if the patient has had a discussion with family or loved ones before an illness has occurred.
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