How to recognise and react to a stroke

Don't be caught unprepared - know how to cope with a stroke. Stock Image.

Strokes are often referred to as a silent killer because they can strike at any time with little warning.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to an area of the brain is cut off.

The symptoms depend upon the region of the brain that is affected by the loss of blood supply and can include changes in sensation or motor control.

The universally accepted method for recognising a stroke is the F.A.S.T mnemonic:

F is for face: Ask the person to give you a big, goofy smile. Is part of their face drooping?

A is for arms: Raise both arms straight ahead for a few seconds. Is one – or both – of the arms wavering or weak?

S is for speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person having difficulty speaking or understanding? Ask them to repeat a simple sentence like ‘the sky is blue.’

T is for time: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call for emergency assistance and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

FAST-Image

Acting fast can save a life. Image: American Heart Association.

Symptoms of a stroke also depend on how much of the brain tissue is deprived of blood supply. For example, someone who had a mild stroke may experience temporary weakness of an arm or leg, but those with a more severe stroke may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or be unable to speak.

If the blood supply is not quickly restored, either on its own or via medical treatment, the effects may be permanent.

A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is sometimes referred to as a “mini-stroke.” With a TIA, the stroke symptoms occur but go away on their own.

Some people fully recover completely from strokes, but over 2/3 of stroke survivors are left with some type of disability.

Netcare 911 advises the following steps be taken in the event of a stroke:

1. Immediately call for emergency medical assistance – the sooner a patient receives treatment the greater the chances that long term damage can be avoided.

2. Cover the patient with a blanket. Stay with the patient and reassure them.

3. If the patient is breathing but is otherwise unresponsive, place them in the recovery position (lying on their side on a flat surface) to protect the airway.

4. If the patient is not breathing and has no pulse, start CPR on them until emergency medical assistance arrives.

The recovery position is a handy thing to know, it can be used in many different medical emergencies such as stroke, seizure etc.Place the patient the recovery position to ensure a clear airway for adequate breathing and to prevent inhalation of vomit.

The recovery position is a handy thing to know, it can be used in many different medical emergencies such as stroke, seizure etc.Place the patient the recovery position to ensure a clear airway for adequate breathing and to prevent inhalation of vomit.

 

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Allan Troskie
Journalist

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