Seconds count when it comes to minimizing brain damage caused by a stroke. So whether you witness someone experiencing the symptoms or find yourself in that situation, knowing what to do can help save lives and reduce long-term disabilities.
Family medicine specialist and female physician Poonam Malhotra, MD, at Central Clinic in Spring Hill, Florida, offers comprehensive medical care to prevent and manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
Her integrative, allopathic, and holistic approach to health care includes providing the education you need to make informed decisions about your health. She’s happy to share insight about what actions to take if you suspect someone is having a stroke.
There are two types of major strokes, and either is a medical emergency. The most common type, ischemic stroke, occurs when a blocked artery, usually caused by a clot, cuts blood flow to the brain.
The second type, a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts, spilling blood into surrounding brain tissue.
Prompt treatment for either type of stroke can reduce brain damage and the likelihood of death or disability.
Recognize the signs of stroke and take action
Identifying the symptoms is the first step in helping someone experiencing a stroke. Familiarize yourself with the acronym FAST (face, arms, speech, and time):
Ask them to smile. If one side of their face droops or appears uneven, it could indicate a stroke.
Ask them to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downward or is weak, it may signal a stroke.
Ask them to repeat a simple sentence. Slurred or garbled speech is a red flag.
Time is of the essence. If any of these symptoms are present, call emergency services immediately.
Call emergency services or the local equivalent for immediate medical assistance when you suspect a stroke. Clearly describe the situation and inform the operator that you suspect a stroke. Provide the exact location so help can arrive promptly.
In the meantime
While waiting for medical help to arrive, consider these suggestions:
Provide comfort and reassurance
It’s essential to keep the person calm and reassured while waiting for emergency services. Offer comfort and support, assuring them that medical professionals are coming. Avoid giving them anything to eat or drink, as swallowing might be difficult due to potential muscle weakness.
Maintain a safe environment
Ensure the surrounding environment is safe and free from hazards that could lead to falls or accidents. Remove any obstacles and keep the area well-lit. If the person loses consciousness or collapses, carefully guide them to the ground, supporting their head and neck.
Stay with the person
Until medical help arrives, stay with the individual to monitor their condition closely. Note any changes in symptoms and be prepared to provide this information to the medical professionals when they arrive.
Don’t administer medication
It's crucial not to offer the person any medication, including aspirin, unless directed by emergency services. That’s because hemorrhagic strokes cause bleeding in the brain that can worsen with the use of aspirin.
Avoid unnecessary movement
While waiting for medical assistance, Dr. Malhotra advises keeping the person as still as possible. Unnecessary movement can worsen the condition or cause further complications.
Following these steps can save lives and significantly improve the outcome for someone experiencing a stroke.
Schedule a visit with Dr. Malhotra at Central Clinic today for more information about recognizing and managing your stroke risks. Call the office or request an appointment online.