When people think about emergency situations where first aid training could help, they usually think of someone having a heart attack or suffering a flesh wound. However, it’s also quite possible to encounter someone having a stroke. According to the Internet Stroke Center, someone in the US suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and nearly 800,000 people have a stroke every year. Needless to say, this emergency is more common than you may think.
There isn’t much you can do for a stroke victim besides calling emergency services immediately. However, it’s absolutely crucial to recognize the subtle signs of a stroke and keep yourself or the victim from panicking in the meantime. Your first aid class will cover the symptoms of a stroke and what you can do while waiting for emergency help to arrive. If you suspect someone is having a stroke, here’s what to look for.
Symptoms of a Stroke
The first step toward proper stroke first aid is recognizing the symptoms and outward signs that someone is having a stroke. Watch for these symptoms:
- Sudden numbness or weakness, particularly if it seems to be concentrated on one side of the face or body
- Trouble talking or understanding someone else’s speech or confusion in general
- Staring aimlessly ahead and not responding to repeated questions
- Difficulty seeing
- Loss of balance or difficulty walking
- Severe headache for no apparent reason
Pro Tip: If you’re the one suffering a stroke, communicate this as best you can to someone else and ask them to get help. NEVER attempt to drive yourself to the hospital if you suspect you’re having a stroke.
How to Help a Stroke Victim
Unfortunately, basic first aid can’t do much for a stroke victim other than comfort them as emergency services rush to help. However, once you’ve realized someone is probably having a stroke, there are a few things you can do in the meantime:
- Call 9-1-1
- If the victim is struggling to breathe, loosen any tight clothing, such as ties or scarves. If the victim is not breathing, begin CPR
- Keep the victim in a comfortable position (most likely laying on their side with their head supported)
- Don’t give them anything to eat or drink
- Observe their condition and behavior and relate everything to emergency services when they arrive
For an easy way to remember this important information, memorize the acronym F.A.S.T. (memorialized here in a parody from the American Heart Association).
F: Facial drooping
A: Arm weakness
S: Speech difficulties
Look for and learn to identify the symptoms described, and remember that time is of the essence. Get emergency help as quickly as possible.
Act Quickly if Someone Has a Stroke
A stroke is a true emergency and requires immediate medical help to prevent death or long-term disability for the victim. While there isn’t exactly a version of CPR that can help with a stroke, it’s just as crucial to know the symptoms of a stroke and get emergency services to come as quickly as possible. Be ready to intervene in any type of emergency.
Connect with us to learn more about identifying an emergency situation and performing proper first aid.