Medical complications may account for 30% or more of the deaths resulting from acute ischemic stroke in the elderly. In descending order of frequency, the most deadly complications are bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, myocardial infarction, and sepsis without pneumonia (often in the setting of a urinary tract infection or a necrotic decubitus). Normal aging is associated with declining pulmonary and cardiovascular functions as well as declining immunocompetence and physical barriers to infection. The neurological effects of acute ischemic brain injury compound these susceptibilities. Accordingly, a high degree of vigilance is emphasized in the diagnostic and therapeutic guidelines provided for care of the lungs, the heart, the urinary tract, and the skin. Guidelines are also provided for management of blood pressure during the first hours and days following stroke onset. Treatment should be withheld unless specific medical indications are identified. When antihypertensive agents are administered, the appropriate dose may be lower than usually recommended (e.g. labetalol) in order to minimize abrupt drops in blood pressure that may result in further injury to potentially viable ischemic brain tissue.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology