Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is compromised either by a clot or a ruptured artery. According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death, and the longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the more complications can arise. In other words, when it comes to stroke treatment, every second matters.
That’s why it’s essential to know what to do if you notice the signs of a stroke so you can take action quickly.
3 things to do when you notice the signs of a stroke
First, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs of strokes. You might suspect that you or a loved one are having a stroke if you notice:
- Sudden confusion
- Numbness in your face, arm, or leg (especially if the numbness affects only one side of your body)
- Loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden vision problems
- Loss of coordination and dizziness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble speaking or understanding others
Once you spot the signs of a stroke, follow these steps:
1 Call 911
If you spot these symptoms, the first thing you should do is call 911, even if you’re not entirely sure your loved one is having a stroke. Because timely stroke treatment is linked to better outcomes, it’s better to err on the side of caution by calling for help. Follow all instructions from the 911 dispatcher.
2 Be prepared to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Not all stroke victims require CPR, but if your loved one is unconscious, the dispatcher may instruct you to perform CPR.
3 Note the time of symptom onset
What time did the stroke symptoms first appear? Report the time that you first noticed symptoms in yourself or in your loved one to the 911 dispatcher and/or the paramedics. While this might seem like a trivial detail, it can play a big role in your stroke treatment plan. Certain medications 一 such as a clot-busting medication called tissue plasminogen activator 一 need to be given within a few hours of the first symptom, so this piece of information can help shape the treatment that your loved one receives at the hospital.
What not to do when someone is having a stroke
Learning what not to do when someone has a stroke is just as important as learning what to do. Never attempt to drive yourself to the hospital if you think you’re having a stroke. You might be tempted to drive a loved one, but it’s still important to call for emergency medical services. Wait for the paramedics to arrive as they can assess the situation, perform CPR if needed, and administer necessary medications.
Additionally, don’t administer any medications to someone having a stroke. This is because some medications, such as aspirin, could make strokes worse, especially if the stroke was caused by a burst or ruptured artery.
Preventing future strokes
Depending on what type of stroke you have, your treatment may include medications and/or surgeries. After your initial treatment at the emergency department, you may require additional treatment. For instance, board-certified cardiologist Dr. Henock Saint-Jaques may recommend a carotid endarterectomy to prevent future strokes. We can also perform angioplasty and stents.
To learn more or to assess your stroke risks, schedule an appointment at our Madison Avenue office. You can use our online scheduling tool or call 646-381-2181.