Coping With Stroke

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A stroke can happen to anyone. Stroke Nurses at Singapore’s National University Hospital explains more.

By ShuQi Liu

Did you know that a young person can suffer from stroke?

When there are unidentified or existing cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, smoking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, and not adhering to medications or treatment, a stroke can happen to anyone.

In 2016, Singapore recorded 6,014 cases of Ischaemic Stroke and 1,383 cases of Haemorrhagic Stroke among residents, aged 15 year and above, admitted into public hospitals.

Ischaemic Stroke occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or plaque of other fatty deposits.

Haemorrhagic Stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures, causing blood to leak internally.

Left untreated, up to two million brain cells die every minute.

Early stroke symptoms include face drooping on one side, arm weakness on one side, slurred speech, loss of balance, and blurring of vision.

“Stay hopeful. It is important to take stroke recovery slowly.”

For Senior Staff Nurses Junella Ang and Justin Babu Angelin, it is their duty to provide timely, vigilant care. “As a stroke nurse, we have to be adaptable and empathetic,” says Junella.   

With over seven years’ experience working closely with neurologists in ensuring that stroke patients receive the best medical care, Angelin is a stroke nurse at National University Hospital (NUH).

As a HyperAcute Stroke Thrombolysis Endovascular Nurse (HASTEN), her responsibilities centres around nursing care, providing early stroke assessment and closely monitoring patients’ response to treatment, such as ensuring early detection and escalation to the medical team for further management.

“When I see my patients progress from treatment to recovery, it inspires me to strive for and deliver the best nursing care,” says Angelin. “I believe in closely monitoring the patient’s response to treatment, providing information to their family members, so they better understand the types of stroke, risk factors and what they can do to help minimize stroke disabilities,” she says.

Similarly, with over five years’ experience in the Neurology General Ward and Neuro High Dependency Ward, Junella is also a stroke nurse at NUH.

As a HASTEN and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) Nurse, Junella’s daily tasks revolve around assessing and expediting rapid neurological assessments for acute stroke patients, collaborating with neurologists to process treatments and management for patients with possible TIA.

“I assist in preparing treatments to be given to patients within the window period of less than 4.5 hours. I also ensure that the rTPA protocol is followed, and look out for potential complications,” she explains.

Under her care, Junella was able to help stroke patients get their lives back on track, providing them with stroke education and advice on cardiovascular risk factors control.

Angelin & Junella: Act fast. Call 995. You could help save a life.

A&J: Protect yourself by lowering your risk of stroke with five key methods:

    1. Quit smoking.
    1. Get regular exercise. Aim for physical activity of at least 150 minutes every week.
    1. Get periodic health screening.
    1. Comply with prescribed medications and follow-ups. Keep diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol under control by taking medication as advised by your doctor.
  1. Have a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetable, whole grains and low in salt and fat.

A&J: Family members and caregivers have to understand the causes of stroke, the different disabilities caused by the locations of stroke, and the long term recovery required to adjust to the effects post-stroke.

Early on, be open and seek assistance from various resources available, such as care coordinators and medical social workers. Be prepared to make home modifications as suggested by the therapist, and undergo caregiver training as required.

Most importantly, be there for the stroke patient. Encourage them to aim for independence by participating in the rehabilitation process.

A&J: Stay hopeful. It is important to take stroke recovery slowly.

Understand your health condition and control the risk factors. Comply with prescribed medications and treatment plans, follow up with medical appointments.

To recover faster, actively participate in rehabilitation. Return back to the community after recovery. It is important to remain socially active and attend support groups.