Learn them now and practice with a friend — you may save a life one day
Globally, 1 in 4 adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime. Over 13 million people will have a stroke each year and around 5.5 million people will die as a result. After a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute without intervention, which means stroke victims must get urgent medical care. Learn the first aid for stroke, and maybe you’ll save a life one day.
What is a stroke?
A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of the brain, damaging brain cells. The outcome depends on the part of the brain affected and the amount of damage done.
What to do if you suspect a stroke
If you think someone is having a stroke, call EMS/911 immediately and ask for an ambulance — do not drive them to the hospital yourself.
Four things to remember
The acronym FAST will help you learn the signs of stroke and remember what questions to ask the person.
1. Face — Is it drooping? Ask, “Can you smile?”
2. Arms— Can they raise both? Ask, “Can you raise your arms?
3. Speech — Is it slurred or jumbled? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
4. Time — to call 9–1–1 right away
Time is brain
The phrase “time is brain” is a quick way of saying that human nervous tissue is rapidly and irretrievably lost as the stroke progresses. The faster a person can get treatment, the greater the chance of making a complete recovery.
Stroke Victims May Need Clot-Busting Medication
If the person is having a stroke caused by a blood clot, a doctor can give them a clot-busting medication called tPA. This drug stops the stroke by breaking up the blood clot and restoring blood flow.
How soon must stroke medication be given?
An injection of tPA is usually given through a vein in the arm, ideally within the first three hours. If a person can get this medication in time, it will reduce the severity of a stroke and reverse some of the effects. The person will have a better chance of full recovery.
Having a stroke may lead to dementia
A Heart & Stroke Foundation report shows that having a stroke more than doubles the risk of developing dementia. If current trends continue, by 2050, the world will have about 200 million stroke survivors and 106 million people with dementia. Following that, there will be 30 million new strokes per year, leading to 12 million deaths caused by stroke and almost 5 million deaths from dementia.
The findings in these reports should encourage us all to adopt a healthy lifestyle now and, if we suspect a person is having a stroke, get emergency medical care as soon as possible.
How can you recognize a stroke?
If you’ve never seen a person having a stroke, watch this video to see how a stroke unfolds. If your first aid skills are a bit rusty, maybe now’s the time to register for a refresher class and learn how to care for a person suffering from a stroke or heart attack.
- Remember the acronym FAST
- Call 9–1–1 immediately if you suspect a stroke.
- Take a Red Cross first aid class and learn to save a life.