Someone is having a stroke… What do you do?
You’ve called the ambulance… Now what do you do?!
In an overwhelming situation, knowing how to react is crucial. Here’s how to identify a stroke and react in a swift, competent manner.
How to Identify a Stroke: Signs & Symptoms
The National Stroke Association developed a great campaign for recognizing a stroke called “Act FAST.”
F – Face. Ask them to smile, and if half their smile droops, call 9-1-1.
A – Arms. Ask them to raise both arms and if one drifts downward, call 9-1-1.
S – Speech. Ask them to talk, and if they slur or talk gibberish, call 9-1-1.
T – Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately (if you didn’t get that already).
Why You Need to Act Fast – Time Is Brain!
Like all medical emergencies, time is of the essence – but especially when it’s a stroke. The reason is that a stroke cuts off the supply of blood to certain areas of the brain which causes more and more brain cells to die as time elapses. Receiving treatment within 60 minutes can prevent disability, according to NINDS, so acting fast is absolutely essential.
What to Do When Someone Is Having a Stroke
So you’ve identified the signs and an ambulance is on the way… Now what? Well, here are some things you can do in the meantime to help:
- Raise their head if they’re unconscious, and put them on their side. If they stop breathing, then you’ll need to perform CPR. Here’s a guide on how to do it.
- Write down their symptoms and be sure to note the time of their first symptom. In flustered situations, don’t rely on memory to tell the paramedics what symptoms occurred. Write down any physical and mental symptoms, like facial drooping, confusion, headache, inattention, and any other abnormal behavior.
- Do not offer them food, medicine, or aspirin. Sometimes the first reaction is to give them food or aspirin. While it’s true that aspirin can help with stroke prevention, aspirin is only beneficial if it’s an ischemic stroke; and since you don’t know what type of stroke is happening yet you could actually make things much worse by giving an aspirin when it’s not needed.
- Stay calm. Although it’s difficult to stay calm in panicked situations, it’s best for both parties if you stay calm, cool, and capable. Understand that a stroke starts out in its most severe form and then improves.
By understanding the signs and symptoms of a stroke, you can provide essential help when it matters most.