The most important aspect of this discourse is to understand how to tell when someone is having or has just had a stroke. Strokes are events that occur in the human body causing a cut-off of the blood supply to the brain (Ischaemic Stroke), or a burst in the blood vessels in the brain (Haemorrhagic Stroke) depending on the primary cause of the stroke. In either case, someone who is having a stoke may show one or more of the following symptoms:
- They may shout and collapse
- Show a sudden change in their level of consciousness
- Complain of having a headache, “the worst headache ever”
- Complain of reduced or blurred vision, especially in one eye
- Complain of weakness, numbness or unable to move parts of their face, arm or leg.
- Appear confused, unable to express themselves
- Have problems understanding what is said to them
- Have problems walking.
When you suspect someone around you has had a stroke, assess the status by asking the following questions
1. Ask the person to Smile: – if the individual has had a stroke, his mouth would likely tend to move to one side when he smiles.
2. Ask the person to Talk: – the person may not be able to make clear sounds.
3. Ask the person to Raise their arms: – check if person is unable to raise any arm, or one arm drifts down.
Practical First Aid Help for Stroke
- Call the emergency services – CRI; Lagos State Emergency Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS/LASEMS): 08022887777, 08022883678, 08022887788, 01-7413744.
- Loosen all restricting clothing- neckties, belts or scarves
- If the person is conscious, lay him down with the head and shoulder slightly elevated to slightly reduce the pressure of the blood pressure on the brain
- If the victim is unresponsive, roll him to lie on his left side. With the head tilted downwards, resting on the left arm to drain secretions.
- Check that there is nothing in the mouth, do not give any food or drink, the victim might choke on it!
- Encourage the person not to move, reassure him that help is on the way.
The sooner a person who has had a stroke has prompt medical attention, the more chances they have of recovering from the event, with less disability.