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Can Stroke Damage be Limited?


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Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that the physical position a person is placed in after a stroke can influence the degree of brain damage the person will sustain. They examined and precisely measured both the heart rate and the arterial oxygen content of 129 individuals within 72 hours of suffering a stroke.

Arterial oxygen was higher in those who were allowed to lie on their right side compared to those lying on their left side. Individuals who were kept in an upright sitting position had the highest arterial oxygen levels of all. In fact, oxygen levels dropped as much as 3 percent when a patient was moved from a chair to a bed. (Cerebrovasc Dis O1;12(1):66-72)

In the simplest terms, a stroke victim's brain will receive more oxygen and suffer less damage if he or she is kept in a sitting rather than a lying position. If for some reason they must be laid down, less damage will result if they are laid on their right side rather than their left. Perhaps the phrase "sitting is right" will help you remember what to do in case of a stroke.

Being able to increase arterial oxygen levels following a stroke can dramatically influence the degree of brain damage, however, most doctors, nurses, and caregivers won't be aware of this research, so don't expect it to be something that has been implemented in clinics, hospitals, or emergency rooms.


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