Today’s blog reviews what a stroke is and the appropriate emergency care response when someone suffers a stroke.
A stroke, or brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to a portion of the brain is suddenly interrupted. This most commonly occurs when a blood clot gets caught in a blood vessel.
A stroke can also occur when a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel, known as an aneurysm, bursts open and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. In both cases, brain cells die.
Signs of a stroke can vary. They tend to show up suddenly. Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, may be present. A person may appear confused. A change in the ability to speak or understand can occur. Sight and balance can be affected. A severe, sudden headache may be described.
A quick method to determine if someone could be suffering from a stroke is to ask the person to smile, to hold up both arms, and to speak a simple sentence. If the person has trouble with any of these tasks, a stroke may have occurred. (To learn more about the signs of stroke, see our Stroke Awareness Month blog from 2013.)
A stroke is a true medical emergency. Activate EMS immediately if a stroke is suspected. Rapid treatment in a hospital is critical in limiting the damage that can occur.
A person experiencing a stroke can become frustrated at being unable to move or communicate clearly. The person may appear confused but still be aware of what is happening. Calm, comfort, and reassure the person until another provider or EMS personnel takes over. Do not give anything to eat or drink.
If the person’s level of responsiveness is or becomes severely diminished, consider placing the person in a recovery position to protect the airway.
Whenever a stroke is suspected, be prepared for the possibility of sudden cardiac arrest and the need for CPR and the use of an AED.
Be prepared for a medical emergency by taking a CPR, AED, and first aid class today. Click the button below to find an ASHI or MEDIC First Aid Training Center near you.