What To Do When Someone Has a Stroke


Oct 19, 2022


Although there are many instructions for what to do when someone has a stroke, the most crucial one is to call 911 immediately. Emergency services for a stroke are very time-sensitive, and damage can be lessened or even prevented if treatment is administered as quickly as possible. Emergency responders will be able to begin administering the proper treatment sooner.

Being in the presence of someone who is having a stroke can be an alarming experience for everyone involved, but it is necessary that you stay calm and take action. However, it isn’t always easy to identify if someone is having a stroke, so we have provided useful information on how to spot a stroke and steps for what to do when someone has a stroke.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that leads to the brain is blocked or bursts. These blood vessels carry vital oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and without healthy flow to the brain, the cells will begin to die. These blood clots will then result in what is sometimes referred to as a “brain attack” due to its similarity to a heart attack. 

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and one of the most common causes of disability, making them a serious medical emergency.

What are the 4 signs of an impending stroke?

It is important to know how to identify the signs of a stroke if you want to be of help to yourself or those around you. Use the term F.A.S.T. to help identify signs of a stroke:

Face drooping or sagging when smiling or speaking

Arm weakness or the sudden inability to raise both arms

Speech difficulties such as slurred speech or incomprehensible speech

Time to call 911

These are not the only signs of a stroke, but they tend to be the most common. Some less common but nonetheless important signs to look for in an impending stroke are:

  • Severe headaches that happen suddenly 
  • Difficulty walking
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes
  • Sudden confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Numbness in any part of the body (usually one side)

Strokes don’t always affect both sides of the body. Often a stroke will occur in a part of the brain that will only have an effect on one side of the body. For example, sudden weakness in either the left or right arm can be a tell-tale sign of a stroke in the left or right hemisphere of the brain.

What to do when someone has a stroke

  • Step 1: Call 911 and stay calm. Even if you’re unsure, it’s better to be safe and find medical help as soon as you can. If the person is unconscious when you find them, perform CPR after calling 911 if you can’t detect a pulse or breath.

  • Step 2: Verify to the best of your ability that the person is having a stroke using F.A.S.T if the person is awake.
    • F – Ask them to smile and see if their face is drooping.
    • A – Ask them to lift both of their arms and note any weakness.
    • S – Ask them to say something. Does it sound strange? Can they speak clearly? 
    • T- Note the time that the symptoms began.
  • Step 3: Stay with the person and wait for medical help to arrive. 

Here is a quick list of things NOT to do if a person is having a stroke: 

  • Do NOT hesitate to call 911
  • Do NOT let the person sleep
  • Do NOT give them any food, drink, or medication
  • Do NOT leave them alone or bring them anywhere

Having this knowledge could help to save a person’s life.

Are strokes preventable?

Data suggests that 80% of strokes are preventable. Some strokes are unavoidable; however, it’s never a bad idea to learn how we can help ourselves and our loved ones to prevent or lessen the chances of having a stroke. 

Here are six tips to lessen your risks of suffering a stroke:

  1. Know your family health history: Some conditions like stroke are genetic. If you are aware that you are more likely to develop these diseases due to your family’s history, then you can begin to take the necessary precautions earlier. (Keep reading: Why is it important to know your family health history)

  2. Lower blood pressure: High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes and increases your risk of stroke by more than double. Monitoring and treating your blood pressure is considered to be one of the most effective things anyone can do to increase their vascular health. 

  3. Lose weight: Even losing 10 pounds can greatly lower your risk of stroke.

  4. Exercise: Exercise can help with points #1 and #2 by lowering your blood pressure and weight.

  5. Stop or limit alcohol consumption: The risk of stroke increases dramatically with increased consumption of alcohol. If stopping alcohol consumption isn’t possible, moderation is advisable.

  6. Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the formation of blood clots. Quitting smoking can decrease your risk of stroke by a large factor.

Have any questions regarding what to do when someone has a stroke? Complete Care can help.

We hope that you now feel more prepared on what to do when someone has a stroke. The medical professionals at Complete Care believe that it is important to know what to do when you encounter the signs of an impending stroke. Feel free to use us as an educational resource for preparation or prevention. For example, if you’re curious about how can you help a stroke patient at home, we can give you our expert tips.

Complete Care has freestanding emergency rooms in Texas and Colorado Springs that are open 24/7 to treat your emergencies. 

Please note that Complete Care does not carry the medication (TPA) used in stroke treatment. We can diagnose patients who have had a stroke and send them on to a stroke center hospital, but do not encourage choosing a free-standing emergency room over a hospital in stroke emergencies.

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