What to do if you think you are having a stroke?
What to do if you think you are having a stroke?
When someone is having a stroke, every second counts, and what you do at that moment can save or destroy someone’s life.
A stroke is when the brain is unable to receive enough oxygen for its function leading to partial disability of the brain. The primary reason is the clotting of blood vessels inside the brain that blocks oxygen supply or a rupture in a blood vessel that also does the same.
The longer the stroke goes without medical attention the greater will be the damage to the brain. But if the patient can be brought to medical attention stroke is also treatable.
How do I know if I am having a stroke?
There are four simple rules if you think someone is having a stroke, FAST.
Look at the patient’s face. Does one side look like it’s drooping?
Ask the patient to raise both arms. Does one of them drift downwards?
Ask the patient to say something. Does it sound strange or muffled?
Call an ambulance immediately. The more you delay, the more damage is happening to the brain.
So, remember, FAST.
What does a stroke feel like?
Strokes can carry a number of sudden symptoms. These include:
- A droop on one side of the face
- Difficulty lifting one arm to its full height
- Slurred speech or difficulty with talking
- Impaired vision in one or both eyes
- Difficulty walking
Though it may surprise many people, the stroke is generally painless but sometimes a slight headache can accompany it.
Symptoms to know about
Symptoms of stroke can vary from person to person, but one thing is certain, it comes fast and takes you by surprise. The general symptoms are weakness, numbness, trouble talking, loss of vision, or paralysis.
What is happening actually is that blood is not reaching a part of your brain with oxygen impairing the abilities controlled by that part of the brain and without oxygen, the brain cells are dying continuously. And that is why every second is important if someone is having a stroke.
Now that you know it’s a stroke what to do?
There are certain DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to stroke. Follow the general instructions by physicians to avoid doing further harm and help the patient to safety.
If you think that someone is having a stroke call the emergency of any hospital and ask for an ambulance. According to physicians, this is the hardest thing to do when someone is having a stroke. Do not hold back and if you are not sure about the symptoms just follow the FAST protocol.
Note when the symptoms first showed
A clot-busting medication called tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator can be given to someone if they’re having a stroke, potentially reversing or stopping symptoms from developing. But it has to be given within 4.5 hours of the start of symptoms. This means the treatment of stroke is extremely time-based.
Patients may also be candidates for more advanced therapies, such as endovascular treatments which generally include surgically removing a clot that caused a stroke or fixing an aneurysm—which is a swollen blood vessel that bursts and causes pressure in the brain. Endovascular treatments for ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, must be administered within 24 hours of symptom onset, and earlier treatment improves outcome so time is critically important.
Do CPR if necessary
Generally, stroke patients do not require CPRs. But if you find that the patient is unconscious, the pulse is dropping and the patient is not breathing, then perform CPR until the ambulance arrives.
You can ask the doctor or the hospital emergency contact to walk you through the process of CPR so that you can do it correctly.
Call emergency even if the symptoms vanish
Even if the symptoms disappear after a few moments call emergency and go to the hospital for support. Because sudden symptoms may be the cause of transient ischemic attacks (TIA) or “mini-strokes.” Which are generally warning that the patient might have chances of getting a stroke later.
Do not hesitate to call emergency
Remember, life is at stake here and you are not sure if it’s a stroke or not. So, do not hesitate to call emergency contacts and do not let the patient talk you out of it. You might be doing more damage to the patient every moment passing. No matter how much someone might try to talk you out of taking them to the hospital, don’t let them. Call the emergency right away.
Do not let the patient fall asleep
The stroke patients may feel very sleepy or tired and might complain that they just need to sleep it away. Do not listen to them. It might be a stroke. Many patients who could not be treated actually went to take a night of sleep before reporting to the emergency room for stroke.
Do not try to give stroke patients medication
There are different types of stroke and you do not know which is which until you do a CAT scan. They react to medication differently. You do not want to give a patient with ruptured brain vessel aspirin. It will only make it worse. Therefore do not try to give medication to stroke patients without professional consultancy.
Do not try to feed or drink
You should not give a stroke patient any food or drink. Sometimes the stroke may impair the ability to swallow or eat. So, you might end up choking the patient trying to feed him.
Do not drive yourself or anyone else to the emergency
It might seem like a good idea but do not drive anyone to the emergency while they are having a stroke. Because the patients might need immediate attention that can be taken care of by the professional in the ambulance which you might not be able to do yourself.
In case you are having a stroke, the condition might worsen on the road. Which may lead to accidents. So, do not try to drive to the emergency, call for help.
Stay focused and make the right decisions
Though it might be scary and frightening to see someone having a stroke, be strong, act quickly, and make the right decisions. If you do so you might just be able to save someone’s life from absolute danger. Get them to the hospital as fast as you can and the rest can be taken care of by the Doctors.
Stroke can be terrifying, but remember that if you make it fast and make the right choices you might just be safe and sound after proper medical care. Follow the DOs and DON’Ts carefully and make the right decisions. This might be just enough to save the patient’s life.
Writer: Mohammad Tanvir Anjum,
Commonwealth Correspondent, Bangladesh.