Health Desk

When a Stroke Patient Heads to the ICU

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - There are so many moving parts, to try to reverse those stroke symptoms and avoid any permanent damage, which is where the Intensive Care Unit comes in.

"They need to be monitored very closely," said Paula Gould, Stroke Coordinator, at Bay Medical Sacred Heart.

Gould says a patient's pulse, blood pressure, oxygen level, and even temperature are carefully monitored. A  high temperature puts them higher at risk for bleeding in the brain. 

Watching a patients heart closely is important too, because sometimes an irregular heartbeat could be the reason for the stroke in the first place.

"Are they going in and out of a heartbeat? Are they going in and out and would need to take blood thinners to avoid a future stroke?"

One of the first things a nurse will do when they get a patient into the ICU is to ask them to swallow. It helps avoid the most frequent complication of a stroke, which is aspiration pneumonia.

On average, and depending on a patient's progress, they stay in the ICU for a little more than 24 hours. The next step for most is physical or speech therapy, sometimes both.




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