The generally accepted acronym to remember for recognizing a stroke is FAST:
F: Facial Drooping
Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face unresponsive or droopy?
A: Arm Weakness
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does he/she have difficulty moving one arm, or does it drift down uncontrollably?
S: Speech Difficulty
Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
T: Time to call 9-1-1.
A further list of symptoms is available on the ASA‘s website:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
It was harder than I expected to find information on how to help someone who is, or may be, having a stroke after calling 911. Most resources only emphasized calling 911, and gave no information on how else to respond while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I personally like to know what to do in the interim. I was finally able to find some information on the website for the Cleveland Clinic.
Note the time that symptoms began.
If conscious, the person with stroke symptoms should lie down and should not be left alone. Try to comfort the person and help him/her to stay calm. If the person is having trouble breathing or swallowing he/she should be put into the recovery position.
If unconscious, check for vital signs (pulse and breathing). If the person is still breathing and has a pulse, place him/her into the recovery position. Stay with the person and frequently check the vital signs. If no vital signs, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Do NOT give a person suffering signs of a stroke any water or food.
Now to end this post with a PSA from the American Stroke Association: