First aid is about more than bandaging a cut or wrapping a sprained ankle. It’s any kind of emergency care given to someone injured or ill until a first responder or emergency worker can arrive at the scene. One of the most important times to administer first aid is when someone is showing signs of a stroke
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is suddenly stopped or interrupted. Often, they are caused by blockages in the arteries that lead to the brain, called an ischemic stroke. Others are caused by a blood vessel bursting in the brain, causing blood to enter the brain tissue, called a hemorrhagic stroke.
When blood is cut off to the brain, the cells lack oxygen and can die. More specifically, when blood flow can’t reach a certain region of the brain, anything controlled in that area will be impaired or unable to function. Because one side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body, if a stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, the left side will be impaired, causing symptoms or affects like paralysis on the left side of the body, vision problems, memory loss, and slowed reflexes.
If treatment isn’t received and blood flow continues to be impaired, death or permanent disability can occur. According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the 5th leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability.
The Signs of a Stroke
When someone is having a stroke, acting fast is essential to the victim having a good outcome. Fortunately, acting fast is easier to do when you remember the FAST acronym for recognizing the signs of a stroke.
If someone’s face appears to be drooping, their smile is uneven, or one eye looks heavier than the other, this is a sign that they aren’t getting blood flow to one side of their brain.
Numbness or weakness in the arm is another cause for concern. If you aren’t sure, ask the person to raise their arms. Signs of a stroke at this stage is when the arm drops, or their arms aren’t steady.
Slurred speech or delayed speech is a sign of a stroke. Ask the person to repeat a few words and listen carefully to how they are speaking.
When someone you’re with is experiencing these symptoms, you have to act quickly to get them help.
Additional signs of a stroke include:
- Vision troubles
- Difficulty in walking
- Sudden change in behavior
- General weakness
If someone is experiencing even one of those symptoms, don’t wait. Call for help or get the person to a hospital immediately.
Providing First Aid to a Stroke Victim
After calling emergency services, it’s important to begin administering first aid to the victim. Follow these steps while you wait for emergency services if the victim is conscious:
- Stay as calm as possible while you wait for emergency services.
- Make sure they are in a safe position, often this is lying on one side with their head raised and supported, in case they throw up.
- If they are cold, provide them with a blanket to keep warm.
- Loosen tight or restrictive clothing like a tie or scarf, especially if they are having difficulty breathing.
- Don’t give them food or anything to drink.
- Reassure the victim that you’re staying with them and help is on the way.
If the victim loses consciousness, check to see if they are breathing or have gone into cardiac arrest. If the heart has stopped beating, perform CPR.
Following these steps can improve the chance of survival and minimize the chance of permanent disability!
Contact Us for First Aid Classes in Raleigh
If you are unsure how to perform CPR or provide first aid, CPR Educators, Inc. can help. We offer first aid training and CPR training at our Raleigh training facility and also offer on-site training for area organizations and businesses. Check out our class schedule to sign up for a class, or call us today at 919-639-4848 to learn more!