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Common Medications Prescribed Post-Stroke

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Following a stroke, most seniors are going to need medications to deal with complications such as depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and some degree of pain or discomfort. While every stroke survivor has his or her own unique set of challenges, there are common medications often prescribed to treat post-stroke issues that both seniors and in-home caregivers should be aware of during the recovery process.

Pain and Depression Medications

Depression often presents itself slowly during the recovery process, depending on the overall affects of the stroke. It can be further influenced by any lingering pain resulting from the stroke. Medications often prescribed to address both issues (since depression can influence pain) include:

• Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (to balance neurotransmitters in the brain that can affect mood)
• Tricyclic antidepressants (for chronic pain)
• Anticonvulsants (blocks pain signals to the central nervous system)

Potential Side Effects: Headaches, weight gain/loss, confusion, swelling

Sleep and Insomnia Medications

North Houston senior care professionals often note that many stroke survivors have difficulty falling asleep or getting back to their normal sleep cycle. The following medications are often recommended to help seniors having trouble with their sleep pattern after a stroke:

• Trazodone and mirtazapine (antidepressants with sedative affects)
• Chloral hydrate
• Benzodiazepines
• Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics

Potential Side Effects: Possible addiction and withdrawal symptoms, retrograde amnesia, increased anxiety

Note: Most of these side effects are associated with long-term use.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

Some senior stroke survivors who aren’t exhibiting signs of depression may experience bouts of increased anxiety. Increased nervousness and anxiety can make seniors less responsive to rehabilitation treatments. Common anti-anxiety medications recommended for seniors after a stroke include:

• Lorazepam and other minor tranquilizers (affecting the central nervous system)
• Alprazolam (Xanax)
• Buspirone

Potential Side Effects: Drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, lack of appetite

Anti-Agitation Medications

Increased agitation or fussiness following a stroke can make it difficult for seniors to respond well to physical therapy and other rehabilitation efforts. Many of the medications recommended to treat agitation are prescribed for use during the early stages of recovery, with such medications including:

• Neuroleptics/Haldol
• Risperidone
• Dextroamphetamine (improves attention span and may help with memory issues related to the stroke)
• Methylphenidate/Ritalin

Potential Side Effects: Stomach pain, weight loss, dizziness, involuntary head, neck and arm movements

After a stroke, ensure your senior loved one has the support necessary for a safe and efficient recovery in the comfort of home. The reliable North Houston stroke care provided by Home Care Assistance guarantees your loved one has help any time of day or night, including assistance with personal grooming, cooking, prescription pick up, and mobility. Our compassionate caregivers also act as a pillar of emotional strength and companionship during the often long recovery process. Call a dedicated Care Manager at 832-412-1345 for more information.