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What to Do When Someone is Having a Stroke

June 2, 2017
Published in: Stroke

Patient on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance

No one wants to see a loved one experience a stroke. However, if your loved one is suffering from a stroke, you need to help them as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence when it comes to an acute stroke. The sooner you can get your loved one to the nearest hospital, the better. Early intervention allows doctors to re-establish blood flow to the brain. This can save your loved one's brain function and prevent permanent disability. An excellent recovery from a stroke is possible if the stroke victim receives care immediately.

Here's what you should do to assist a stroke victim:

Recognize the Symptoms of a Stroke

An effective way to recognize the symptoms of a stroke is by remembering the F.A.S.T. acronym.

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face drooping?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm drifting downward?
  • Speech: Ask your loved one to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or does it sound strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of the signs above, you need to get help immediately. Call 9-1-1!

Get Help Immediately!

Never waste time if you suspect a stroke has occurred. Calling a doctor or another family member isn't advisable. You should call 9-1-1 right away. Your loved one needs to get help within the first 3 hours after a stroke to increase their chances of a full recovery. Remember, it's much better to be safe than sorry if you think someone is a stroke.

Stay with the Stroke Victim

While waiting for help to arrive, make sure to stay with the stroke victim. Don't leave the room. You need to be there to make sure no more injury or harm comes to them. A stroke victim is at risk of falling or injuring themselves further because they can't always control their movements or coordinate their muscle groups.

Take Note of a Few Things

Try to write down the time when the stroke occurred. This information is vital. Make a list of any medications your loved one takes and include the dosage. If possible, bring the medication bottles with you to the emergency room.

Never Offer Food or Medicine

A daily pill containerWhile the majority of strokes are caused by a blockage in an artery, strokes are also caused by bleeding from an artery that bursts. Offering medications such as aspirin can make this condition much worse. Also, giving food to someone suffering from a stroke can cause choking.

Keep Calm

This is difficult to do. It's hard to keep your composure during an emergency, but you need to reassure your loved one and stay calm. Remind your loved one that you're going to stay with them and that help is on the way.

Maintain a Positive Outlook

Once stroke victims get the help they need, most improve enough to return home and function independently, even if there are some permanent symptoms. It's helpful to remember that a stroke is usually severe and then improves. In some cases, people recover very quickly. There is room for hope. Staying calm and having a balanced outlook can help in the recovery process.

Being there while a loved one is experiencing a stroke can be a terrifying experience, but you can get through it. The most important thing to remember is to get help quickly. Immediate medical care provides the best opportunity for a full recovery.

The Augusta Health Stroke Center is dedicated to providing the specialized care that stroke patients need. Visit their page to learn more about risk factors and rehabilitation options.