A stroke, or brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to a portion of the brain is suddenly interrupted. This most commonly occurs when a blood clot gets caught in a blood vessel. A stroke can also occur when a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel, known as an aneurysm, bursts open and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. In both cases, brain cells die. Signs of a stroke can vary.
They tend to show up suddenly. • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, may be present. • A person may appear confused. • A change in the ability to speak or understand can occur. • Sight and balance can be affected, and, • A severe, sudden headache may be described.
A stroke is a true medical emergency. Activate EMS immediately if a stroke is suspected. Rapid treatment in a hospital is critical in limiting the damage that can occur. A person experiencing a stroke can become frustrated at being unable to move or communicate clearly.
The person may appear confused but still be aware of what is happening. Calm, comfort, and reassure the person until another provider or EMS personnel take over. Do not give anything to eat or drink. Whenever a stroke is suspected, be prepared for the possibility of sudden cardiac arrest and the need for CPR and the use of an AED.
Fainting is the result of a drop in blood flow to the brain, usually due to a reaction to sudden stress, lack of food or water, or prolonged standing in place. A person suddenly becomes light-headed or dizzy and may collapse. In most cases, the effects are temporary and not serious.
Lay the person flat. If there is no evidence of injury, raise the feet about 6 to 12 inches. If not possible, sit the person forward and place his head between his knees. Keep the person still and quiet until he or she feels better.
Stroke Assessment A quick method to determine if someone could be suffering from a stroke is to ask the person to: • Smile • Hold up both arms • Speak a simple sentence If the person has trouble with any of these tasks, a stroke may have occurred.
Stroke treatment is time sensitive! Stroke victims who get to the emergency room as soon as possible are less likely to have long-term impairment.
Heat Stroke Heat stroke is a true life-threatening medical emergency. It can occur due to overexertion in a hot humid environment or as the result of a breakdown in the body’s ability to shed heat. If body temperature rises significantly, it can quickly cause permanent damage to sensitive organs, including the brain and spinal cord.
In addition to the signs of heat exhaustion, a person with heat stroke will have an altered mental status. The skin can become red, very warm, or even hot, and be completely dry. Heavy sweating could be present, especially when exertion is the cause.
The person may collapse and have a seizure. Activate EMS immediately. Begin aggressive cooling with the resources available to you. Spray or pour water on the victim and fan him. Apply ice packs to the person’s neck, groin, and armpits. Cover the victim with a wet sheet and continue to fan. The best method, when possible, is to immerse the person in cool water up to his or her neck. If the person is unresponsive, place him on his side in the recovery position to protect the airway. Do not force the person to drink fluids. Never give an unresponsive person anything by mouth. Provide continuous cooling until EMS arrives. With early recognition and immediate cooling, the survival rate approaches 90%.