How to recognise and deal with a stroke

A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. A stroke is a medical emergency and you need to act FAST, the quicker you act, the more of the person you can save.

F – Facial weakness. Look at their eyes or mouth, they may be droopy and they can’t smile evenly. It will look unusual, as if they have lost the muscle in their face,

A – Arm weakness. If you are able to, ask them to raise both of their arms in front of them, as if they are a Halloween mummy. You may find they may only be able to raise one.

S – Speech problems. Their speech may become slurry and unable to speak clearly or might not be able to understand what you are saying to them. Ask them a question, such as ‘Can you hear me?’ or ‘Can you blink your eyes?’ Can they respond appropriately?

 T – Time to call 999 (UK) or 112 (EU) for emergency help. Tell the operator that you suspect a stroke after using the FAST guide. This will increase the seriousness of your call and will hopefully result in a quicker response time.

First aid

If you have to wait longer than expected, what immediate first aid can be given?
  • If the casualty is conscious, make sure you reassure them and try to reduce their anxiety, many people may suspect what is happening to them, they will become anxious and worried.
  • If they are conscious, lay them down on the floor, preferably on something warm if they are outside, and raise their head above their head and shoulders.
  • Open windows and loosen clothing. If they are outside, keep them warm but do not overheat them.
  • If they are unconscious, place them into the recovery position. If you suspect a female may be pregnant, then lay her down on ‘her’ left hand side. This reduces any risk to her or the unborn baby.
  • Do not give them anything to drink, eat or smoke. They may find it hard to swallow which could cause a choking risk.
  • Monitor their response levels until help arrives, if things change, then information the ambulance control room.

Always remember! Act F.A.S.T!

For more information about first aid courses please call 01925 351 032 or check out our course section.


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