Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. This statistic was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On their website, they also cite a survey in which only 38% of respondents were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 911 when someone was having a stroke. These results are somewhat alarming, to say the least.
In this third installment of the First Aid Series, we’re going to take a closer look at strokes and why prompt treatment is absolutely critical.1 Our information comes directly from a website called the Mayo Clinic. They are a nonprofit organization committed to clinical practice, education and research, and providing expert care to those who need healing.
Now, let’s dig into the definition of a stroke…
What Is a Stroke?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a stroke “occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.”
It’s important to remember that a stroke is classified as a medical emergency. Therefore, prompt treatment is crucial. Early action may minimize brain damage or potential complications. There is some good news, though: Strokes can often be treated and prevented. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states that fewer Americans now die from strokes than they have in the past.
So How Do You Recognize a Stroke?
While symptoms might vary, there are some general signs that often signify a stroke. Watch for the below and, if possible, also pay attention to when these symptoms first start. Why? According to the Mayo Clinic, the duration of each one might affect your treatment options.
Check out the below breakdown from their website:
• Trouble with speaking and understanding. “You may experience confusion. You may slur your words or have difficulty understanding speech.”
• Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm, or leg. “You may develop sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg. This often happens just on one side of your body.”
• Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes. “You may suddenly have blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes, or you may see double.”
• Headache. “A sudden, severe headache, which may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness, may indicate you’re having a stroke.”
• Trouble with walking. “You may stumble or experience sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination.”
How Do You Provide First Aid to a Stroke Victim?
Call emergency medical services if you notice any signs of a stroke, even if they seem to waver or disappear. The Mayo Clinic advises that you think “FAST” and do the following…
• Face. “Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?”
• Arms. “Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to rise up?”
• Speech. “Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?”
• Time. “If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.”
Please remember that time is critical. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms persist—every minute counts during a medical emergency. If you’re with someone who you suspect is having a stroke, watch them closely while waiting for first responders to arrive.
What Are Some Stroke Risk Factors?
There are numerous factors that can increase your stroke risk. Potentially treatable risk factors include but are not limited to the following:
+ Lifestyle risk factors
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
- Heavy or binge drinking
- Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines
+ Medical risk factors
- Blood pressure readings higher than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)
- Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- High cholesterol
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection, or abnormal heart rhythm
- Personal or family history of stroke or heart attack
For more information about strokes—including causes and prevention—be sure to check out the Mayo Clinic section that’s dedicated to this particular condition. Strokes impact more people than you might think!
A Brief Overview of Unitek
At Unitek EMT, we strive to prepare aspiring Emergency Medical Technicians by providing them with EMT training and an accelerated EMT program. Experts in the EMS field educate our students through a combination of traditional learning, simulation training, and workshop-style classes.
Additionally, we offer a program with several variations to better accommodate our students. These include a 14-Day Boot Camp2 at our Fremont Campus in Northern California, and a modified version of the Boot Camp at our facility in Chandler, Arizona. If you’d like more information, please contact us toll free at 888-790-1458.
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1 Unitek EMT provides this information for general interest only, not as medical advice.
2 Our 14-Day EMT Program in AZ and the 14-Day on-ground portion of the EMT Program in CA are taught in an intensive “boot camp” style, to simulate the fast pace of work expected on the job as an EMT. The California EMT Program also includes online instructional hours.