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If someone near you experiences sudden weakness or numbness in the body, sudden confusion, sudden trouble seeing, sudden dizziness or sudden loss of coordination, there is a chance that he or she has just suffered a stroke. The speed with which the symptoms arise should be eclipsed by the speed at which the emergency treatment is given. To give first aid for a stroke, you should survey the victim for signs of a stroke, contact emergency medical personnel as soon as possible and treat the patient until the medical team arrives.
A quick and simple survey of the person’s face, arms and speech, as well as a timely response to this medical emergency, is critical. Observe the face of the person, and check to see whether one side droops when he or she smiles. When the person raises his or her arms, observe whether one is lower than the other. Determine whether the person is capable of correctly repeating an easy sentence without slurring or other speech problems. If the person exhibits the signs of a stroke, contact local emergency medical personnel, tell them what you know about the person's condition and symptoms, then begin first aid for a stroke immediately.
If the victim is unconscious, the first step in first aid for a stroke should be to assess his or her breathing and circulation. When breathing and a pulse are not present, and if you have been trained, you should begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). An unconscious but breathing victim should be placed on his or her left side with the chin extended so that he or she can breathe easier and so that secretions such as saliva or vomit can roll out if necessary. It might be a natural response to shake the unconscious victim in order to rouse him or her, but this should be avoided because it might rupture the blood vessels where the stroke-causing blockage occurs.
First aid for a stroke in a conscious patient should be handled slightly differently. After contacting emergency services, place the person on his or her back with the head and shoulders slightly raised, so that blood pressure to the head is reduced. Avoid giving the person anything to eat or drink, because the effects of the stroke might have paralyzed the throat muscles, and he or she might choke. Remain with the victim, and calmly reassure him or her that medical help is on the way. To save time when emergency help arrives, try to begin gathering supplemental medical information such as the person's name, age, medication being taken and other relevant information related to the person’s medical history.
Having given first aid to a conscious stroke victim, I can say these measures are pretty much on the nose. You always call for medical help first, even if the patient is conscious. Any time you do this, you need to give the dispatcher the victim's sex and approximate age. The EMTs will probably ask for a more detailed medical history when they arrive, if you have it.
Not all strokes are caused by extremely high blood pressure, but keeping the patient calm is always the best solution. Reassure them that help is on the way and you will not leave them. If someone else is there, have them meet the EMTs, but if it's up to you, make sure the patient knows you're going to meet the ambulance and you are not leaving them alone.
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