Signs and symptoms of stroke are tingling, weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm or let on one or both sides; confusion, difficulty speaking or swallowing; loss of balance and coordination; unequal pupils, blurred, double or loss of vision; moderate to severe headache; a deterioration or loss of consciousness.
Apply the F-A-S-T test:
F ace: has their face drooped?
A rms: Can they raise both arms?
S peech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
T ime: Time is critical. Call triple zero (000) immediately
Stroke first aid
1. Apply the F-A-S-T test. If there is any sign of stroke call triple zero (000) for an ambulance immediately.
2. If breathing but unconscious or not fully alert, place the patient in recovery position with affected side downwards.
3. If conscious, keep patient's head raised, whether sitting or reclined. Give constant reassurance to avoid patient distress.
4. Support their weak or affected limb gently. Do not give any food or drink.
5. Monitor airway while waiting for the ambulance. Prepare for CPR.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes a stroke? A stroke is caused by disruption of blood supply to the brain. Part of the brain becomes damaged, and this can affect a person’s appearance, bodily functions, speech and sight.
How can I help if they the person is frightened or anxious? Keep yourself calm so you can think more clearly and help the person having the stroke. Help them into recovery position and reassure them that help is on its way.
What if I can't understand what they are saying? A person who is having a stroke may have difficulty speaking clearly, but they may be able to understand what you say. Reassure them, speak slowly, and acknowledge that help is coming.
Why does a stroke tend to affect only one side of a person’s body? Since disruption of blood flow to the brain generally involves only one side of the brain, only one side of the brain and body is affected. For many people the language area is associated with the left side of the brain near the area that controls motor function for the right side of the body. A stroke with right hand and speech problems is common.
Are signs of stroke in children and teenagers any different? Children and teenagers experience stroke in similar ways to adults, as described above. Additionally, seizures, changes in behaviour, difficulty concentrating and occasional collapse can occur.
Why should I call triple zero (000) immediately? During a stroke every minute counts. The faster the patient gets medical help, the less damage is caused. Provide constant reassurance while waiting for ambulance.