Dysphagia and Stroke

July 2, 2013 Annie Sanford, RN, BSN


Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) is a common challenge for stroke survivors.  Up to 78% of stroke patients will experience some degree of dysphagia with those patients being 7 times more likely to develop aspiration pneumonia.  Aspiration occurs when, instead of being swallowed, food or beverages are inhaled into the lungs.  This can lead to pneumonia and possibly death. 

It is vital to follow the swallowing modifications and exercise recommendations provided by your Speech Therapist to enhance recovery after stroke and to prevent further complications. Before leaving the hospital a game plan will be created to ensure you can swallow safely and continue to enjoy favorite foods.  Recommendations may be provided to optimize your nutrition which also supports recovery. 

Dysphagia tends to be one of the first challenges facing patients and their care partners upon going home.  The American Stroke Association has some helpful tips for living with dysphagia. The National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders (NFOSD) is also a great resource.

For more information about stroke visit www.swedish.org/stroke or call the Swedish Stroke Program at 206-320-3200

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