A stroke is something that can happen anywhere, at any time and gives no warning of occurring. It occurs usually because of a blood clot in the brain. People suffering from a stroke may be unable to walk, talk or even come across as confused. It can not only be a frightening experience for the one going through it, but also for those witnessing it.
It is important to know the basic symptoms of how a stroke manifests. There are some telltale signs which can point to an individual suffering a stroke, these are:
- The first sign can be a weakness, paralysis or a numbness of limbs or face, especially on one side of the face.
- An individual’s vision may suddenly blur in one eye.
- Difficulty in speaking, slurring etc.
- Sudden difficulty in swallowing.
- Unexplained fall, dizziness, loss of balance.
- Sudden severe headache without any plausible cause.
- Drowsiness, confusion or a loss of consciousness.
- There is a clear-cut set of instructions to follow when you feel that someone is suffering from a stroke. These include:
Call an Ambulance
The first thing to do when you recognise that someone is having a stroke is to call an ambulance. Give them the FAST test to ensure that they are in fact presenting the symptoms of a stroke. The FAST test stands for –
Face – Ask them to smile, if one side of their mouth droops then it is a symptom of a stroke.
Arm – Ask them to raise both arms, if one arm is drifting downward it is a sign of a stroke.
Speech – If the person talks with a slurred speech or if it sounds strange it might be because of he or she is having a stroke.
Time – Time is of the essence, if you see these symptoms call the ambulance immediately.
Follow the DRSABCD Plan
D – Check for danger to the individual or those around him or her.
R – Check for their response, if they are unable to talk grasp their hands and ask them to squeeze a yes or no to your questions.
S – Send for help immediately.
A – Check their airways to ensure that they are able to breathe freely. If the airway is not clear keep them on their side and put the arm under them at right angle to the body.
B – Check for their breathing, simple checks like seeing if their chest is rising and falling, or feeling the breath on your cheek.
C – Give CPR if you feel their pulse has stopped.
D – If the person is not responding to the CPR inform the paramedics about it so that they can administer the defibrillator.
Note the Time
It is very important to identify what time you first observed the symptoms. It is based on this that the doctors will decide whether or not to administer a clot-busting medication called tPA, or the tissue plasminogen activator. It can potentially reverse or stop the symptoms from developing. The catch, though, is to administer the medication within 4.5 hours of the start of the symptoms. Informing the paramedics or the doctors about the time when the symptoms started can go a long way in ensuring that the patient is given the right treatment.
While there is a clear cut set of instructions to follow when someone is suspected to be suffering from a stroke, the don’ts of this ailment are not very widely known. Here are a few things you should absolutely not do when you think someone is suffering from a stroke.
Let The Person Sleep
Stroke survivors often feel very sleepy when the stroke first happens. In fact, a lot of patients say that they slept for a few hours before coming to the hospital because they felt really tired. This is very worst thing to do, because time is of the essence when treating a stroke. The medication to be given to stroke-survivors is very time sensitive making it imperative that you see a doctor immediately when you feel or see the symptoms on someone.
Give Medication, Food or Drinks
There are essentially two types of strokes. Haemorrhagic stroke, caused by a ruptured blood vessel, or an ischemic stroke, caused by a clot in the blood vessel. Over 80% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, however, if you are among the 20% that have had a haemorrhagic stroke an aspirin will only make things worse. Any medication will have to wait till you get the hospital and get a CAT scan. Also, strokes sometimes affects an individual’s ability to swallow, which makes giving them food or drink potentially fatal.
Don’t Let the Patient Drive
While it might seem like a silly caution, stroke patient sometimes present so normally that it is hard to believe that they have faced such a serious condition. Make sure that you drive the patient to the hospital. If you are alone wait for the ambulance to arrive or have someone drive you to the hospital. Stroke can manifest with numbness in limbs or even paralysis making driving very dangerous.
Keep talking to the person suffering from the stroke and ensure that they are calm. You do not want to them to get anxious since that increases the blood flow making it even more dangerous for them. It is important for you to stay calm and make sure that you are doing all you can to get yourself and/or the patient to the emergency room as soon as possible to avert any dangerous repercussions from the stroke.
Strokes can often go undiagnosed, which in itself can lead to a great deal of issues. The first step when you feel that you or someone near you is having a stroke is to call the ambulance or the hospital. Even if it was a short-lived stroke it is important that the patient gets checked to avoid for any issues arising at a later date. Let’s make no mistake about it, a stroke can be life-threatening and it is only immediate medical attention that can save the individual. Try and get help as soon as possible.