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Preventing complications of stroke

While you are in the hospital, your healthcare team will be watching you closely to prevent potential complications following a stroke.

Aspiration pneumonia: Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by food and fluid particles getting into the lungs. This occurs frequently after a stroke as swallowing muscles may be weak. You will be evaluated for safe swallowing and you may have a modified diet if you have trouble swallowing. 

Breathing difficulties: While not common, breathing may be affected if the stroke was severe or occurred in the brainstem. Some patients may need a temporary breathing tube to ensure they can safely breathe. Swelling in the brain cause can also cause pressure on the brainstem and impairing their breathing. The breathing tube can usually be removed within a few days.  

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): A blood clot in a large vein of the arm or leg that forms due to decreased blood flow. If you are in bed for long periods of time, you are at a high risk for DVT. You will likely be put on blood thinning medications and/or wear compression stockings to prevent DVTs while you are in the hospital.

Your healthcare team is working to determine what caused your stroke and how to prevent another one. Stroke prevention is individual depending on your risk factors, so it’s important you fully understand ways to prevent futures stroke when you leave the hospital.