The goal of stroke recovery, especially for seniors susceptible to having another stroke due to underlying conditions, is to reduce future risk as much as possible. Medications are often prescribed to address issues like depression, anxiety and insomnia that may arise following a stroke and increase the risk of a second stroke. Here are some of the most commonly prescribed medications after a stroke, presented by El Dorado County Home Care Assistance.
Anticoagulants (blood thinners) are the first medications a senior is likely to receive following a stroke. Blood thinners like Warfarin and Heparin can greatly reduce the risk of sustaining another stroke in seniors with potential stroke-contributing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Seniors need to be monitored carefully when first given blood thinners, however, due to the risk of bleeding complications in some patients.
According to the National Institutes of Health, a third of all stroke survivors experience some degree of depression. In-home caregivers who know their loved one’s normal frame of mind best are often better at spotting possible signs of depression following a stroke. Frequently prescribed medications include:
• Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
• Tricyclic antidepressants
• Anticonvulsant medicines
Stroke can affect the body’s natural sleep cycle, sometimes resulting in either chronic insomnia or difficulty falling and staying asleep. Medications often prescribed to address sleep issues following a stroke include:
• Antidepressants with sedation side effects (including trazodone and mirtazapine)
• Chloral hydrate (has to be administered in smaller dosages or taken for a limited period of time to reduce addiction risk)
• Benzodiazepines (also recommended for short-term use only)
Some seniors become increasingly anxious after a stroke to the point where added nervousness interferes with their recovery. Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax can address short-term anxiety in seniors, provided there are no interactions with other medications they may be taking for pre-stroke conditions. Additional anti-anxiety medications typically prescribed post-stroke may include:
• Duloxetine/Cymbalta (also treats depression and nerve pain, may also help with mood)
• Mild sedatives
• Buspirone (a mild tranquilizer that can be safely used long-term)
If you’re the primary caregiver of a senior loved one who has had a stroke and you could use additional support meeting his or her care needs, reach out to Home Care Assistance. As a leading provider of stroke care in El Dorado County, we ensure seniors have the resources necessary for a safe and efficient recovery in the comfort of home. Call us today at (916) 358-3801 and request a free in-home consultation with a friendly Care Manager.