First Aid Management: Stroke

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Every 40 seconds, a new or recurrent stroke happens. Also called cerebrovascular accident or brain attack, stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. It can happen to anyone at any time of the day.

Stroke occurs when blood stops flowing to the brain. Blood carries oxygen and since there is a cessation in blood flow, the brain becomes deprived of oxygen causing the brain cells to die within minutes. It only takes six minutes of no oxygen in the brain to cause permanent brain damage. Usually, the areas the brain that control memory, muscle control and speech are affected by stroke. Although, damage varies from person to person depending on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much of the brain is damaged.

Kinds and Causes of Stroke

There are two kinds of stroke that are caused by different causes

Ischemic Stroke

  • More common
  • Due to a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel in the brain

Hemorrhagic Stroke

  • Less common
  • Due to a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain or due to the leakage of a weakened blood vessel
  • May result to death

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

  • Also called a mini stroke
  • Due to a brief stop in the blood flow to the brain
  • Mimics stroke-like symptoms that last less than 24 hours before disappearing

Symptoms of Stroke

Stroke symptoms are sudden causing mostly noticeable disruptions in daily activities. Symptoms of stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, commonly presenting only on one side of the face (a suspected patient would NOT be able to smile equally on both sides or stick one’s tongue out in the center)
  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the arm or leg, especially on one side (failure to raise both arms and one arm drifts downwards)
  • Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden confusion, having trouble either in speaking or understanding speech (slurred speech and has difficulty repeating simple sentences such as “The grass is green.”)
  • Sudden loss of balance, coordination, walking or dizziness
  • Sudden intense headache with no apparent cause

First Aid Management for Stroke

If a person presents with any of the following symptoms that are mentioned in the previous section, call for local emergency assistance immediately or go to the nearest hospital. Apply first aid learned from professionals in First Aid and CPR Courses.

  • Check the level of consciousness of the suspected patient. If the patient is unconscious but breathing normally, assist the patient to their side in a supported position.
    It is important to contact local emergency services in cases of strokes
    It is important to contact local emergency services in cases of strokes
  • Call for local emergency medical assistance.
  • Give care to the patient and ensure the conscious patient is in the position of greatest comfort.
  • Cover the patient to limit heat loss.
  • Closely watch the patient for changes in condition while waiting for the emergency help to arrive. Do not leave the patient alone at all times. If a deterioration in observed in the conscious state of the patient, assist the patient to their side in a supported position.

A stroke is a medical emergency that happens where there blood flow to the brain is stopped causes brain cells to die within minutes.

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