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Stroke: How to notice and help

Timo Uustal

Last week Vea's grandma in the Philippines and Timo's grandma in  Estonia got stroke. What are the odds that stroke could impact also you  or your close ones? Quite high actually. It's in TOP5 reasons of death  in developed countries and leading cause in long-term disability. While  it can happen at any age, nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in  people over the age of 65.

Witnessing a loved one experience a stroke is frightening, but keeping remaining calm might just save their life.

Here's what you can do:

  • Know all stroke symptoms
    There  are certain stroke symptoms you should be able to recognize. Any sudden  onset of trouble with vision, speech — either slurring words or talking  nonsense — or weakness on one side of the face or body are signs of  stroke. Confusion, inattention, and headache can also accompany stroke.  If in doubt, get it checked out. Don't wait to see if it ‘passes.
  • Call 911 / emergency service
    Don’t  waste time by calling a family member, a friend, or the person’s  doctor. It’s important to get stroke help immediately to increase the  chances of a full recovery. Call 911.
  • Stay with your loved one
    When  offering stroke help, you need to make sure that no additional harm  comes to the stroke victim. Stay with the patient to prevent them from  falling or further injuring themselves.
  • Take a few notes
    Make  note of the time when the stroke took place. This is critically  important information later. If the patient takes any medication, make a  list of which ones (including dosage if you know it), and bring it to  the hospital. If possible, bring the actual medications to the hospital  with you.
  • Do not offer the person food or medicine
    Although  most strokes are caused by blockage in an artery, some strokes are  caused by bleeding from an artery that burst. Giving aspirin to someone  with this condition could make it worse.
  • Stay calm
    Although  it can be difficult, it’s important to compose yourself and assure the  stroke victim that everything is going to be all right. Try to  concentrate on the situation and remind yourself that you are doing  everything you can to help. Reassure your loved one that you aren’t  going anywhere and that help is on the way.
  • Keep a positive outlook
    When  they get the help they need, most patients improve enough to return  home and function independently, even if they have some permanent  symptoms.
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