When a person is having a stroke, every second counts. And, what you do in those critical moments can potentially help save someone’s life. The rate at which brain damage can occur during a stroke is rapid, and survival is dependent upon how quickly one can start the treatment. By learning the symptoms of a stroke and familiarizing yourself with how to prepare for one, you or a loved one will have a much better possibility of recovery.
Read on to know dos and don’ts after recognizing a stroke that can affect brain damage prevention and timely treatment.
Look out for signs
Better awareness of the signs of stroke and the importance of seeking immediate emergency care are needed. The symptoms of a stroke can vary from person to person. But they tend to have one thing in common. People are fine one moment and then suddenly have weakness, numbness, trouble talking, or loss of vision.
To help recognize a stroke, the Stroke Association has created the acronym FAST, which stands for
- Face Drooping
- Arm Weakness
- Speech Difficulty
- Time to call 911
Call emergency even if stroke symptoms pass
When someone has temporary symptoms of stroke, it’s also a medical emergency. You should be aware that warning signs might last only for a few minutes before they disappear. These brief episodes are transient ischemic attacks (TIA) or mini-strokes. They still should be taken seriously as someone who’s had a TIA has a high chance of having a stroke within a week.
Don’t drive yourself or someone else to the emergency
It might seem like a good idea to drive a stroke victim to the nearest emergency room. But, if your loved one is severely affected by a stroke, then you’re better off calling 911. Emergency care experts can start life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.
What to do while you wait
- Stay on the phone with the 911 operator and follow their directions.
- If the person is conscious, try to get them on their side with the head supported and slightly raised.
- If the person is unconscious, check his/her pulse and breathing. If you need to, start Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). The 911 operator can help you do it the right way.
- Keep the victim stay relaxed. It’s likely he/she will be scared, but your steady presence can be a big help. Loosen up scarves, ties, shirt collars, and any other clothing that could get in the way of breathing.
- Make sure the front door is unlocked so there are no delays.
What not to do while you wait
- While taking an aspirin can be helpful in case of a heart attack, it could potentially make the situation worse if the victim is experiencing bleeding (in case of hemorrhagic stroke).
- Don’t let the victim go to sleep. Stroke survivors often complain of suddenly feeling very sleepy. You need to keep them awake until they receive expert care.
- Don’t give them food or drinks. Sometimes, a stroke affects the victim’s ability to swallow. If you give them anything to eat or drink, they might choke on it.