Stroke

When stroke is coupled with other health problems

Stroke may be complicated by other factors, including one or more pre-existing health conditions; the onset of injuries when the stroke is occurring (e.g., fracture due to a fall) or the development of new health conditions as a result of the stroke (e.g., epilepsy, hemianopia or partial vision loss).  

Multimorbidity
Having more than one health condition simultaneously (sometimes referred to as multi-morbidity) is increasingly common due to treatments and medications that enable people to live longer. It is estimated that at least half of people affected by chronic illness have more than one condition. Among the individuals interviewed some noted that the stroke was not their only condition; many suffered from various other chronic ailments in addition to their stroke.

Other complications around the time of stroke
In some cases other health complications occurred during the time of the stroke, including injuries and fractures (usually related to a fall at the time the stroke occurred). Two women had arm fractures that went undetected during treatment.

In other cases, additional health problems and physical complications arose during stay in hospital.

Epilepsy after stroke
Seizures after stroke are rare and only occur in about 5% of people who have had a stroke (figures from Stroke Association). Epilepsy is a tendency to experience seizures recurrently and can be one of the rarer after-effects. Treatment for epilepsy after stroke is the same as for any other kind of epilepsy and it can usually be well controlled with medication. The Stroke Association's factsheet on 'Epilepsy after stroke' describes the causes of epilepsy after stroke and the types of seizures that people can experience.

People were often unaware that they were at risk of having seizures after their stroke and some found them difficult to deal with. One of the people we spoke to described what it was like to have an unexpected seizure after his stroke. He has been taking antiepileptic medication and has not had a seizure for over a year. People who developed epilepsy after their stroke would have liked to have known they were prone to seizures and to have been given more information so that they were more prepared for them. 

Epilepsy happens after stroke because the nerve endings or insulating material around the nerves in the brain can be damaged by the stroke. One person we spoke to who had been left physically disabled by her stroke said that the residual damage to her brain also caused other problems such as epilepsy, migraine and depression. After her first seizure she was taken to hospital and met a neurologist who has helped her manage these problems. 

Some people wondered whether a seizure might be a sign that the brain is forming new connections. There is no evidence for this and it is more likely that the seizure is due to the damage to the brain cells rather than recovery.

Although a doctor will not usually prescribe treatment if you have only had a single seizure, you must still notify the DVLA and must stop driving until they decide whether it is safe for you to drive again. One person we spoke to described his seizures, the medication he is on for them and that because he lives in a remote area it is a nuisance not being able to drive. 


 

Last reviewed August 2013
Last updated August 2011

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