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Recognizing and Acting on Stroke

User Category: BlogOn: May 16, 2012

What do I do if I think someone is having a stroke? "Recognizing and Acting on Stroke" is Part II in eCaring's 4-part Stroke Education Series. In our last post, we learned how to recognize the signs of stroke. While having a keen eye for symptoms can drastically increase a stroke victim’s chance of survival, what actions should you take if you believe someone is really experiencing a stroke? The fear can be overwhelming, but don’t let it become paralyzing.  One moment could be all it takes to save someone’s life. If the person you are with exhibits any of the 5 major signs of stroke, act F.A.S.T. F.A.S.T is a simple test designed by the National Stroke Association to help you identify an upcoming stroke and act expediently. To conduct this simple test:

F.A.S.T. stroke

F = FACE        Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? A = ARMS       Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? S = SPEECH   Can the person repeat a simple sentence (such as “The sky is blue”)? Is his or her speech slurred or slowed? T = TIME         If the person fails any of these tests, call 911 immediately. Don’t take any chances – act quickly. For more information on the F.A.S.T. method, watch this brief video: If I think my senior is having a stroke, what else can I do?
  • Lie the person flat on his or her back
This will promote optimal blood flow to the brain. However, if the person is experiencing nausea, drowsiness, or is unresponsive place the person on his or her side to prevent choking if vomiting should occur.
  • Note of when the symptoms first appeared.
Within the first three hours of a stroke symptom appearing, an FDA approved clot-buster medication can be administered to reduce the risk of long-term disability. Such stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within the first 3 hours of appearance. Many US hospitals will not give medication if a person arrives at the hospital outside the 3-hour window. Although aspirin is widely recognized in stroke prevention, once a stroke begins, it is generally recommended to refrain from extra dosage. Aspirin could aggravate bleeding in the brain or pose a choking risk.
  • Always be prepared
Educate yourself by learning as signs that could signal stroke, and unique symptoms. A stroke can happen at any time – print out the FAST Wallet Card and keep it with you wherever you go! In honor of National Stroke Awareness Month, our series continues next week as we explore post-stroke behavior changes. Stay Tuned!: We'll take a look at common eating problems after stroke and talk about ways to deal with post-stroke personality changes.