Gina* is a Psychology professor. She was in the middle of giving a lecture on Sigmund Freud when suddenly she started feeling slightly dizzy. She disregarded it, thinking it was just another one of those headaches which will eventually turn into migraine. She told herself that she would just drink medicine after class. As she continued, however, her students started giving confused looks. She continued lecturing despite this until one of her students raised her hand and pointed out that she was slurring her words. Gina did not understand. She thought her thoughts were intact and she didn’t realize that she was slurring her words. Gina excused herself from class and went to the comfort room where she noticed that the right side of her face was drooping. Gina suffered from a mild stroke. Thankfully, she was back teaching by the next week. This was a true story.
Similar to heart attack and cardiac arrest, strokes occur anytime of the day, to anyone who may be doing nothing or something. According to the John Hopkins Medicine (ND), stroke is more common in men than in women at every age. However, more women die of strokes each year, as compared to men due to their longer life span.
So what exactly is stroke and why is it considered a medical emergency when one shows symptoms of stroke? The brain is the control system of the body and in order for the brain to keep working, it must consistently receive blood flow to receive the oxygen and nutrients coming from the blood. Therefore, when the arteries that lead the blood to the brain is either blocked or ruptured, a region of the brain does not receive the blood it needs causing brain cells to die.
There are three types of stroke: hemorrhagic, ischemic, and transient ischemic. Hemorrhagic stroke results from ruptured blood vessels with bleeding into the tissue of the brain. The more common kind of stroke is the ischemic stroke wherein part of the brain is stripped of blood flow, generally due to blood clot or blockage of artery due to atherosclerosis. Lastly, transient ischemic attack is comparable to an ischemic stroke having similar causes. However, symptoms disappear and last only five to ten minutes long (John Hopkins Medicine ND). Get a CPR A and AED courses online to start your final training.
According to British Red Cross (ND), the key skill to first aid for stroke is to carry out the FAST test. Can weakness be spotted on one side of the face? Can both arms be raised? Can their speech be understood? It is time to call for an emergency response team. If one side of the face is dropped (drooping eyes and mouth), unable to lift one or both arms and keep them raised, and having garbled or slurred speech, then yes, it is probably time to seek for medical help. However, the University of Arizona (ND) claims that there is a new sign for stroke. If the tongue goes to one side, or crooked, this may also be indicative of a stroke.
The aforementioned skills to determining the signs of stroke can be learned in first aid training, along with other several courses offered by Red Cross programs. Stroke shows us that it is always important to think fast while the minutes last. You have to call for the nearest AED provider near you to save the life of the victim.
*not her real name
John Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. ND. Stroke. Baltimore (MD): John Hopkins University; [cited 2013 Jun 06].
Available from: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/specialty_areas/cerebrovascular/conditions/stroke.html
British Red Cross [Internet]. ND. Everyday first aid. London (UK): Red Cross; [cited 2013 Jun 06].
Available from: http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/First-aid/Everyday-First-Aid/Fast-first-aid-tips