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A stroke is a serious cerebrovascular syndrome that may result in death or paralysis, with severe consequences on the patient’s physical, intellectual, cognitive and psychosocial conditions. Economically, strokes affect not only the patients’ families but also the country. Stroke patients may suffer permanent paralysis, resulting in total dependency caused by their inability to work or support themselves.
When an acute stroke occurs, the brain suffers a suddenly decreased supply of blood. During this stage, the brain matters are still not permanently damaged, and the patient has a good chance of recovering if appropriate and timely treatment is provided. As the initial phase of an acute stroke is critical, specialised care by an interdisciplinary team plays a crucial part in saving the patient’s life, reducing the severity of paralysis or disability and minimising complications. Nurses play a pivotal part in every stage of stroke patient treatment, particularly during the frst 72 hours. Excellent nursing care can help stroke patients achieve positive treatment outcomes.
This article presents a set of guidelines and roles for nurses caring for acute stroke patients. Developed using empirical evidence, these guidelines and roles pertain to the following areas: neurological assessment, intracranial pressure control, blood pressure management, body temperature management, blood glucose management, oxygen therapy, body positioning, hydration, feeding, swallowing, bladder and bowel management, body movement, prevention of deep vein thrombosis, and depression management. The information presented herein can be applied to designing an appropriate caregiving practice and developing an effcient caregiving programme for acute stroke patients.
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