Stroke

Frequently Asked Questions about Ictus

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What is wrong with me?

The doctors said I had a stroke in the right side of my brain; so why do the symptoms appear on the left side of my body? (Or vice versa.)

Most nerve fibres exiting the brain and which control the body's different functions cross over in the neck, and therefore mobility and feeling are affected on the opposite side of the body from where the stroke occurred.

Is the thrombus still there?

In ischemic strokes, the occlusion of an artery forms by the formation of a thrombus. The presence of said occlusion and the possibility of eliminating it through a drug or intervention is essential, especially in the first hours after the stroke.

In the following days, the fact that the thrombus persists is less critical, and other issues are more relevant: the neurological status of the patient, if complications arise and, the complementary tests' results aimed at finding the cause of the stroke. And choosing the most appropriate preemptive treatment.

Why does my arm or leg always hurt?

Patients who experience numbness or weakness on one side of the body may also notice pain in this zone. This does not mean that the muscles are damaged.

What tests will they do to me?

What is a CT? It does hurt?

Computed Tomography is a test that, through the use of X-rays, allows to obtain radiographic images of the interior of the organism in the form of transversal cuts or, if necessary, in the way of three-dimensional images. The CT scan is quick, painless, non-invasive, and accurate. In cases of emergency, you can identify injuries and internal bleeding quickly enough to help save lives.

What treatments are available?

Individuals who have suffered a mild stroke make a practically full recovery. In patients who experienced a moderate or severe stroke, recovery depends on the size and location of the injury and a full recovery is less likely. Your initial progress also helps predict the prognosis; as time passes and you go through the rehabilitation, then any long-term aftereffects which may arise can be identified.

Can it happen again? After treatment, there is still a risk of stroke?

A person who has had a stroke is more likely to suffer another one than the general population.

The risk depends mainly on the cause of the stroke: strokes related to severe arteriosclerosis of the main arteries are more frequent than strokes caused by atrial fibrillation that has created a thrombus in the heart. In any case, if the patient follows a healthy lifestyle and the necessary medication, the risk of suffering a new stroke falls considerably.

What can I do to recover sooner?

The nervous system recovers slowly and so you need to have patience, be persistent and adopt a positive attitude during rehabilitation. Reports have shown that recovery is quicker when it is: started shortly after the stroke; of high intensity; and well structured by healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists, amongst others.

What diet should I follow if I am taking the anticoagulant acenocumarol (Sintrom)?

The amount of vitamin K in your diet could interfere with the effectiveness of the treatment, producing either an excessive or insufficient anticoagulant effect. Vitamin K is mostly found in plant-based foods, particularly dark yellow vegetables or green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cabbage, endives, asparagus, etc.). These foods are not prohibited, but you should avoid significant changes in your diet that could alter how blood coagulation is regulated.

Typically after a stroke, recommendations are to follow a Mediterranean diet that is rich in nuts and extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a source of more vitamin K than other oils but it is healthier in terms of preventing vascular diseases.

Living after a stroke

What should I do now I've returned home?

Patients normally return home when they are minimally independent or require supervision from family members or carers. To minimise the aftereffects you should continue to receive home or outpatient physiotherapy. Depending on the injuries, you may need to readjust some areas of your home (bathroom, entrances, handrails or other safety measures, kitchen utensils, etc.). There are orthopedic specialists who work with patients requiring special neurological care.

Will I get back to how I was? Will I be able to walk again?

Individuals who have suffered a mild stroke make a practically full recovery. In patients who experienced a moderate or severe stroke, recovery depends on the size and location of the injury and a full recovery is less likely. Your initial progress also helps predict the prognosis; as time passes and you go through the rehabilitation, then any long-term aftereffects which may arise can be identified.

Will I be able to drive again?

Spanish legislation establishes the psychophysical capacities required to drive a vehicle after suffering a transient or recurrent ischaemic attack. You must not drive for the first 6 months following a stroke, or even after a transient ischaemic attack, until you recover. Additionally, you need to obtain a neurological report that confirms that you do not have any long-term injuries. If you are stable, do not suffer any more strokes during the follow-up period and your injuries do not affect your ability to drive, then you should ask your specialist for a report stating this information and undergo an evaluation in an accredited psychometric test centre. Patients who suffer from recurrent ischaemic attacks are prohibited from driving.

Is sexual intercourse dangerous after a stroke?

Patients generally tend to return to sexual activity three months after suffering a stroke. It is very unlikely that you will suffer another stroke during sexual intercourse. Considering the strong emotions and stress patients experience shortly after a stroke it is understandable that sexual activity remains a secondary concern. Nevertheless, despite initial fears sexual activity gradually returns to normal, which will help improve your self-confidence.
It is important to remember that some of the problems that can limit sexuality after a stroke are treatable and so you should not hesitate to discuss them with your medical team.

Do you have another question?

If you have another question that has not been answered on this page, do not hesitate to tell us and a professional will give you an answer.

TThank you!

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Substantiated information by:

Ángel Chamorro
Arturo Renú
Antonia Fernández
Xabier Urra

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 8 August 2018

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