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First Aid Guide: Stroke

TeamAckoJan 17, 2024

Strokes can happen suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving victims with devastating symptoms that can alter their lives permanently. It's essential to have basic knowledge about how to recognise a stroke (STK) and what to do in order to provide first aid as soon as possible. Prompt action can be the difference between life and death. This article discusses the signs, causes, and First Aid for Stroke along with frequently asked questions.




Signs of Stroke

Here is a list of some common symptoms of Stroke.

  • Weakness in the face, arm, or leg

  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech

  • Imbalance

  • Severe headache 

  • Vision issues 

  • Walking issues

Types of Stroke

Following are the four types of Stroke.

  • Ischemic: This prevents blood flow to that part of the brain and can cause damage or death to the brain tissue.

  • Hemorrhagic: This can cause pressure on the brain and damage or death to the brain tissue.

  • Transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke): Here, the symptoms are similar to those of a STK but last only for a short time. This type of STK is a warning sign that there may be a risk of a more serious STK in the future.

  • Brain stem stroke: This can cause a range of symptoms, including difficulty breathing, swallowing, and speaking, as well as lack of coordination or balance.

Common causes of Stroke

Listed below are the common causes of STK.

  • High blood pressure

  • Smoking

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • High cholesterol

  • Obesity

  • Physical inactivity

  • Alcohol consumption

  • Drug abuse

Less common causes of STK

  • Blood clots

  • Brain aneurysms

  • Arteriovenous malformations

  • Trauma

  • Infections

  • Certain medical treatments

Risk factors for Stroke

Listed below are some risk factors for STK.

  • High blood pressure: This is the most significant risk factor for STK, as it increases the pressure on the walls of the blood vessels in the brain, leading to damage over time.

  • Smoking: Smoking damages the blood vessels, making them more susceptible to blockages and ruptures.

  • Diabetes: High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels over time, increasing the risk of STK.

  • High cholesterol: High levels of cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the brain.

  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of STK.

  • Physical inactivity: Lack of exercise can lead to weaker blood vessels and an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, all of which are risk factors for STK.

  • Age: As people age, their blood vessels become less flexible and more prone to damage, increasing the risk of STK.

  • Family history: People with a family history of STK are at a higher risk of having a stroke themselves.

  • Previous stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack): Having had a stroke or TIA increases the risk of having another STK in the future.

  • Birth control pills: Women who take birth control pills and smoke are at a higher risk of STK due to the combination of increased blood pressure and damage to blood vessels.

  • Atrial fibrillation: It is a type of irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots forming in the heart, which can travel to the brain and cause a STK.

  • Sleep apnea: People with sleep apnea, a condition causing breathing interruptions during sleep, are at a higher risk of STK due to the strain put on the cardiovascular system.

  • Heavy alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol intake can increase blood pressure and contribute to other risk factors.   

  • Illegal drug use: The use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, can increase the risk of STK by causing high blood pressure and damage to blood vessels.

  • Heart disease: People with heart disease, such as coronary artery disease or heart failure, are at greater risk. 

  • Poor diet: A diet high in salts, saturated and trans fats, and processed foods can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. 

  • Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, increasing the odds of STK.

  • Migraines: People who experience migraines with aura (visual disturbances) may have an increased risk.        

  • Gender: Men have a higher risk of stroke than women, but women have a higher risk of STK during pregnancy or while taking certain hormonal medications.  

  • Air pollution: Exposure to high levels of air pollution has been linked to heart problems, including stroke.

  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as sickle cell disease, lupus, and some types of cancer.    

  • Poor dental health: Poor dental health, including gum disease, has been linked to an increased risk of STK.

Quick action: First Aid for Stroke

Here is a step-by-step guide to First Aid for Stroke.

  • Act F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time): This acronym means to look out for the signs of STK which can indicate facial drooping, arm weakness, or speech difficulty. It also reminds you to note the time of onset of symptoms, as time is of the essence in treating a STK.

  • Call emergency services: If you suspect someone is having a STK, it's important to call emergency services right away. Every minute counts in this situation, so don't wait to see if the symptoms will go away.

  • Stay with the person until help arrives: While waiting for emergency services to arrive, stay with the person and provide reassurance. Make them comfortable and calm while waiting for help.

  • Provide comfort and reassurance: Stroke can be a frightening experience for the person experiencing it, as well as for those around them. Providing comfort and reassurance can help keep the person calm and reduce stress. You can also offer to help with any physical needs such as getting them a glass of water.

Treatment for Stroke

If someone experiences a STK, the treatment they receive will mainly depend on the type, severity, and location of it. Following are the treatments that can help with STK recovery.

1. Medications

Medications help treat ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. Some of the most commonly used medications are as follows.

  • Antiplatelet agents: These medications prevent blood clots.

  • Anticoagulants: These medications help prevent the formation of clots in people with atrial fibrillation or deep vein thrombosis.

  • Thrombolytic drugs: These medications are administered to dissolve the clots causing ischemic STK.

2. Medical procedures

There are several medical procedures that can aid in preventing and treating STK, which are as follows.

  • Carotid endarterectomy: It is a surgical procedure that removes plaque buildup in the carotid artery that may lead to STK.

  • Angioplasty and stents: This procedure involves inserting a catheter into the artery carrying blood to the brain and inflating a balloon to widen the narrowed region. Then a stent is inserted to hold the artery open.

  • Mechanical thrombectomy: This procedure involves removing the blood clot from the artery using a device.

3. Rehabilitation

STK can often cause long-term physical and cognitive disabilities. Rehabilitation plays an important role in the recovery process. The following therapies are used.

  • Physical therapy: It restores strength, balance, coordination, and mobility.

  • Speech therapy: It helps with communication and language difficulties caused by STK, as well as swallowing difficulties.

  • Occupational therapy: It helps in relearning daily living activities and assists in improving fine motor skills.

4. Lifestyle changes

Making some lifestyle changes can help in preventing STK and in the recovery process. The following lifestyle changes should be made.

  • Exercise: Regular exercise helps improve overall health and reduces the risk of STK.

  • Healthy diet: A healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can reduce the risk of STK.

  • Quitting smoking: Smoking increases the risk of STK, so quitting smoking can reduce the risk of stroke.

Frequently asked questions

Here is a list of some questions and answers related to First Aid for Stroke.


How long does a stroke last?

The duration of a STK depends on its severity and type. Ischemic strokes, which are caused by blood clots, may last from a few minutes up to several hours, while hemorrhagic strokes, which are caused by bleeding in the brain, can last much longer.

Which medication is best for stroke?

Some common medications used in STK treatment include thrombolytics, anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents, and blood pressure medications. Thrombolytics can dissolve blood clots that cause ischemic strokes, while anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents can prevent blood clots from forming. Blood pressure medications can help lower it and reduce the risk of hemorrhagic strokes.

Can life be normal after a stroke?

It is important to focus on rehabilitation and recovery to help improve quality of life in case of stroke. This may involve physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and assistance from caregivers or support groups. With ongoing treatment and support, many people are able to adapt to their new normal and still live fulfilling lives after a STK.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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