What to do...if you experience symptoms of a stroke

Check out our guide to learn what you should look for and how to react

Being aware of the signs that someone is having a stroke could make all the difference in a medical emergency.

A stroke is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is restricted or stopped. A lack of oxygen and vital nutrients causes brain cells to die, which can result in long-term damage that affects the person’s cognitive and physical ability. The sooner the symptoms are spotted and treatment is received, the less damage is likely to happen.

From prevention to prescriptions, Co-op Health is here to help. Remember, if you or someone you know has survived a stroke, Co-op Health can make it easy to manage any repeat medications and have them delivered for free.

Recognise the symptoms

Every 5 minutes someone in the UK has a stroke. Think FAST to spot the warning signs of a stroke:

Recognise stroke symptoms - face

Face

  • Has it dropped on one side?
  • Is the person unable to smile?
  • Has their mouth or eye dropped?
Recognise stroke symptoms - arms

Arms

  • Can they lift both arms?
  • Are they able to hold them up in the air?
  • Is there weakness or numbness in one arm?
Recognise the symptoms - speech

Speech

  • Is their speech slurred?
  • Are they unable to speak?
  • Can they understand what you are saying?
Recognise the symptoms - time

Time

If the answer is ‘yes’ to these signs and symptoms, it’s time to act!

What to do in an emergency

If you’ve spotted the signs that someone might be having a stroke, it’s vital that they receive treatment as soon as possible in order to limit the damage. here’s how to react:

Do…

  • Call: Dial 999 immediately or ask someone else to make the call on your behalf
  • Observe: Make a note of the symptoms you’ve spotted and when they started. Witnessing someone having a stroke can be a frightening experience, but it’s important to try and keep calm and focused
  • Explain: When the paramedics arrive, explain what you’ve observed. This will help them determine the best treatments to administer

Don’t…

  • Let the person go to sleep: Someone suffering a stroke might feel tired and want to go to bed, but it’s essential they receive medical attention quickly
  • Give them food or drink: A person having a stroke might have difficulty swallowing, so it’s important not to give them anything to eat or drink
  • Offer medication: Not only could tablets or liquid medicine cause choking, they might hinder rather than help the person’s condition

Preventative measures to protect yourself from stroke

70% of strokes could be prevented by detecting and managing medical conditions such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol

There are also a number of lifestyle changes you can make to limit the risk of a stroke:

Stroke preventive measures

These will help lower the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and prevent your arteries becoming clogged with fatty substances, which can increase the risk of stroke.

Ensure friends and family are aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke, and understand the importance of reacting quickly in a medical emergency, by sharing this guide.

Sources

Co-op Health pharmacist

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