A stroke is a life-threatening condition that happens when there’s a blockage and therefore lack of blood supply to the brain. The common question which arises in such a situation is the following: can you do CPR on a stroke victim, and most importantly, should you?
In this article, we will answer the question of general interest by introducing you to the warning signs of a stroke. Its goal is to increase awareness of each individual about the possibility of CPR performance in this kind of case.
To put it in simpler words, we will give you a better understanding of cerebrovascular accidents by getting into the adequate time frame for the proper way of an emergency response. We will guide you through the common symptoms, types and treatment of a stroke. This way, you can understand when CPR is needed as an emergency response.
Most Important Facts and Types of Stroke
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that stroke has become one of the most common causes of death in the US, with more than 795,000 Americans experiencing a stroke each year. Every second in a stroke is crucial because the loss of oxygen in brain cells and tissue causes significant damage and can be fatal within minutes. It is a common medical emergency situation requiring acute and prompt treatment with adequate and lengthy rehabilitation afterwards.
The further complications of brain injury can be radically reduced if preventive action is taken as soon as possible. In the following section, we will introduce you to the symptoms of stroke so you can easily recognize them and take further steps.
Recognizing the Symptoms Of a Stroke
Symptoms of a stroke can be revealed in different parts of the body related to the areas of the brain which were damaged.
The outcome is likely to be much more positive if early action is taken in those emergency situations. That is why you first need to be aware of the signs of a stroke so you can recognize them in a given moment and act accordingly. The common symptoms of a stroke are the following:
- Having trouble with speech– confusion when speaking or difficulty understanding other people.
- Paralyzing of the face or limbs. – numbness, weakness or loss of movement in the face or arms and legs, mostly on one side of the body.
- Having trouble with your vision – seeing double figures or blurry or blackened background with one or both eyes.
- An immediate painful headache along with possible vomiting or dizziness
- Loss of balance in your walking- sudden trouble with walking and loss of sense of coordination.
Having these symptoms in mind, you can now better respond by preventing the stroke victim from experiencing the following possible outcomes:
- Brain injury
- Long-term disability
Different Types of Stroke
There are different types of strokes, out of which three are the primary and include:
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as ministroke, happens when blood flow is blocked to the brain and lasts a temporary period. A TIA usually lasts only a few minutes and doesn’t cause permanent damage. However, this may be a warning sign as 1 in 3 people who experience this type are bound to have a stroke eventually, half of which occur within a year after the TIA.
- Ischemic stroke (ischemia – severely reduced blood flow) or the most common type, is when the blood flow is either entirely blocked or narrowed to the brain due to blood clots. The symptoms of this type last longer than TIA, and they may even become permanent. CDC statistics suggest that 87 percent of stroke victims experience the ischemic type.
- Hemorrhagic stroke (brain hemorrhage) is caused by either a rupture of the blood vessel or by a leak that makes it seep into the brain. The American Heart Association states that 13 percent of all strokes are hemorrhagic.
Essential Steps for Prevention and Treatment
If you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, either on you or someone else, seek medical intervention immediately. If you want to make sure that what you’re dealing with is actually a stroke, think “F.A.S.T.,” and you just may save a person’s life:
- Face – Encourage the stroke victim to smile. Does the mouth droop on one side?
- Arms – Make sure that the person raises both arms. Does the arm on either side fall down? Or are they unable to lift one arm?
- Speech – See if you can understand the victim’s speech when you ask them to speak.
- Time – If you come to the point where you recognize one of the symptoms above, it’s time to call 911 or an emergency number immediately.
The most important thing to emphasize is that you need to call 911 immediately. Every second is of enormous importance. The longer the victim goes without help, the chances for long-term disability, brain damage, or even death are higher.
Performing CPR Only When Necessary
Even though most of these cases don’t require CPR practice, if you see that the person is becoming unconscious, then you may consider performing CPR.
But first, check their pulse, and if you are certain they are not breathing, then you can start with chest compressions while waiting for medical intervention. If you are uncertain of how CPR is done, ask the 911 dispatcher to guide you through. Also, this way, you can know for sure whether you should practice rescue breathing or if AED is further needed before the ambulances transport them to the hospital.
By having a sense of the necessity of CPR performance as a response in an emergency case, you can directly influence the stroke victim’s recovery.
We have established in this article that CPR can be used on a stroke victim. However, this is not common in all cases. In fact, it is rarely implemented regarding cerebrovascular accidents because the symptoms are not the same as cardiac arrest.
This topic concerns everyone because you can never know on which side you will end up in a serious situation like this – either as a CPR practitioner or a patient experiencing a stroke. For this reason, everyone should stay informed of each sign and type of stroke and realize when CPR is needed and when it is not. This kind of information is never trivial when it comes to a real-life situation because it can have a direct effect on a patient’s survival.