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Are you having a repeat stroke? Or is it a post-stroke mimic?

Constant Therapy | Stroke

[Dr. Shaheen Lakhan is an award-winning physician-scientist and clinical development specialist, who is board-certified in both neurology and pain medicine with clinical training from the Cleveland Clinic and Massachusetts General Hospital. He writes a regular column in The Learning Corp’s BrainWire hub for brain health]

Having had a stroke once makes it a lot more likely that you’ll have another. In fact, of the 795,000 Americans who have a first stroke each year, over 20 percent will suffer a second stroke.

Stroke survivors need to be vigilant in monitoring their health and staying adherent to the regimen recommended by their healthcare providers, as they can be more prone to emotional and physical stress, dehydration and insomnia. But watch out for post-stroke mimics.

Staying on top of your health can help you evaluate potential post-stroke mimics

What is a post-stroke mimic? An individual may experience symptoms that mimic stroke symptoms and make them think they’re having a repeat stroke – but in reality, they are not. Patients and doctors alike tend to notice the unmasking of these original stroke symptoms – muscle weakness, sensory changes, problems with balance – and jump to the conclusion that these are signs of a second stroke. However, oftentimes, they can be linked to other factors. 

The danger in misdiagnosis of a repeat stroke is far-reaching

Because of the immediate action needed for a stroke diagnosis, dangerous and expensive procedures like clot-busting therapies could result in bleeding and costly care that the patient does not need. Additionally, missing the true cause of the symptoms – like an infection, stress, or dietary change – can delay healing and cause further complications.

Is it really a repeat stroke? Our LIST can help evaluate common symptoms

Stroke survivors who experience these symptoms which mimic a stroke should quickly seek medical attention but advocate for themselves to avoid misdiagnosis by evaluating all potential causes with their clinician. To that end, we’ve created a handy infographic to help remind patients what to look for. 

Is it really a second stroke? Don’t forget to check your LIST:

  • Levels: Dips or spikes in glucose and electrolytes like sodium could be due to diet or dehydration
  • Infection: Illnesses like UTIs and pneumonia are common in stroke survivors
  • Sleep: Are you getting enough? Insomnia can be a sign of stress
  • Temperature: Fever is often linked to inflammation, infections, allergies, or just overheating    

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