If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, you’re much more likely to suffer from a stroke. It happens when the brain isn’t getting the blood it needs to function. If this happens, the quicker you get help, the more likely you are of fully recovering and avoiding long term issues.
What Causes a Stroke?
Just like all the organs in your body, your brain works thanks to the oxygen and nutrients provided by the blood. If your blood supply is restricted, brain cells start to die. There are two main types:
- Ischaemic: this type accounts for over 80% of cases, and happens when the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot.
- Haemorrhagic: this type happens when a blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.
Certain medical conditions increase your risk of a stroke:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Atrial fibrillation (a heart condition that causes irregular and fast heart rate)
If you suffer from one or more of these conditions, you should take time to familiarise yourself with the warning signs of a stroke, and share them with your loved ones.
What are the Warning Signs of a Stroke?
Often a stroke happens suddenly, with one or more of the following symptoms:
- Numbness or weakness on one side of your face, arm or leg
- Trouble speaking
- Trouble seeing (with one or both eyes)
- Confusion and trouble understanding
- Unable to balance / dizziness
- A severe headache
If you notice these symptoms, you’ll need to check whether it’s a stroke. The quickest way is to perform a FAST test:
Arms: can you raise both arms? Is one higher than the other? Is it difficult to hold one up?
Speech: can you repeat a short, simple sentence? Are you slurring your words or finding it difficult to articulate?
Time: If any of the above apply, it’s time to contact the emergency services.
A stroke is a serious medical emergency: don’t wait or take chances. The quicker you respond and receive help, the better your chances of a full recovery.
How to Help Someone Having a Stroke
- Call 911 Immediately: every second counts. Call 911 immediately if you observe any of the FAST
- Note the Time of the First Symptom: This information is important and can affect treatment decisions.
- Perform CPR, if necessary: Most patients do not require CPR, but if you find no pulse or breathing, perform CPR until the ambulance arrives.
- DO NOT Let the Patient Go to Sleep: Stroke patients need immediate help and delaying help will complicate the case.
- NEVER Give them Medication, Food or Drink: To be safe, patients should not take any pills, food or water until the ambulance arrives.
- DO NOT Drive the Patient to the Hospital: Stroke patients need special care, and the patient is best handled by trained professionals.
Better Safe than Sorry
Nobody likes to think that they might suffer from a stroke. But if you suffer from a medical condition that increases your risk, it’s a good idea to plan for the possibility of a stroke. Planning for the worst might not be fun to do, but it could save your life. Share the FAST test with your loved ones so they know what to do in an emergency. Advance planning could end up making a big difference.References