You or your loved one was in the hospital after having a stroke. Stroke happens when blood flow to the brain stops. First, you or your loved one received treatment to prevent any further damage to the brain, and to help the heart, lungs, and other important parts of your body.
After you were stable, doctors did testing and treatment to help with recovery from the stroke and prevention of a future stroke. You may have stayed in special units that help people to recover after a stroke.
What to Expect at Home
Because of possible injury to the brain from the stroke, you may notice problems with:
Changes in behavior
Doing easy tasks
Moving one side of the body
Sensation or awareness of one part of the body
Talking or understanding others
You may need help with many daily activities you used to do alone before the stroke.
Depression after stroke is fairly common as you or your loved one learns to live with the changes. It may develop soon after stroke, but symptoms may not be present for up to 2 years after the stroke.
Moving around and doing normal tasks may be hard after you or your loved one have a stroke.
Make sure your home is safe. Ask your doctor, therapist, or nurse about making changes in the home to make it easier to do everyday activities.
Learn to make your home safer if your loved one has memory problems from the stroke and could wander away inside the home or away from the home.
Nerves that help your bowels work smoothly can be damaged after a stroke. Have a routine. Once you find a bowel routine that works, stick with it. See also: Daily bowel care program
Pick a regular time, such as after a meal or a warm bath, to try to have a bowel movement.
Be patient. It may take 15 to 45 minutes to have bowel movements.
Try gently rubbing your stomach to help stool move through your colon.
Drink more fluids.
Stay active or become more active.
Eat a diet with lots of fiber.
Ask your doctor about medicines you, or your loved one, are taking that may cause constipation (such as some medicines for depression, pain, bladder control, and muscle spasms).
Have all of your prescriptions filled before you go home. It is very important that you take your drugs the way your doctor or nurse told you to. Do not take any other drugs, supplements, vitamins, or herbs without asking your doctor about them first.
You may be given one or more of the following drugs. These drugs are meant to control your blood pressure or cholesterol, or keeping your blood from clotting. They may help prevent another stroke:
Antiplatelet drugs (aspirin or Clopidogrel) help keep your blood from clotting.
Beta blockers or ACE inhibitor medicines may help protect your heart.
Diuretics (or water pills), ACE inhibitors, Beta-blockers, and other medications will help control blood pressure.
Statins or other drugs that lower your cholesterol.
If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar at the level your doctor or nurse recommends.
Do not just stop taking any of these drugs, as well as drugs for your diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other medical problems you may have.
If you are taking a blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin), you may need to have extra blood tests.
If you have problems with swallowing, you must learn to follow a special diet that makes eating safer. Ask your doctor what the signs of swallowing problems are. Learn tips to make feeding and swallowing easier and safer. See also: Swallowing problems
Learn more about what you should eat to make your heart and blood vessels healthier.
Avoid salty and fatty foods.
Stay away from fast food restaurants
Try to limit how much alcohol you drink. Ask your doctor when you may start. Even if you are allowed to drink, limit yourself -- women may have one drink a day and men may have two drinks a day.
Keep up to date with your vaccinations. Get a flu shot every year. Ask your doctor if you need a pneumonia shot.
Do not smoke cigarettes. Ask your doctor for help quitting if you need to. Do not let anybody smoke in your home.
Try to stay away from stressful situations. If you feel stressed all the time or feel very sad and blue, talk with your doctor or nurse.
Many patients who have had a stroke feel sad or depressed at times. Talk to friends or family about this. Ask your doctor about seeing a professional to help you with these feelings.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if you have:
Problems taking drugs for muscle spasms
Problems moving your joints (joint contracture)
Problems moving around or getting out of your bed or chair
Skin sores or redness
Pain that is becoming worse
Choking or coughing when eating
Signs of a bladder infection (fever, burning when you urinate, or frequent urination)
Call 911 if the following symptoms develop suddenly or are new:
Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg
Blurry or decreased vision
Not able to speak or understand
Dizziness, loss of balance, or falling
Adams HP Jr. Secondary prevention of atherothrombotic events after ischemic stroke. Mayo Clin Proc. 2009;84(1):43-51.
Adams RJ, Albers G, Alberts MJ, Benavente O, Furie K, Goldstein LB, et al. Update to the AHA/ASA recommendations for the prevention of stroke in patients with stroke and transient ischemic attack. Stroke. 2008 May;39(5):1647-52. Epub 2008 Mar 5.
O'Regan C, Wu P, Arora P, Perri D, Mills EJ. Statin therapy in stroke prevention: a meta-analysis involving 121,000 patients. Am J Med. 2008 Jan;121(1):24-33.
Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.