How to recognise the signs of a stroke

on Tuesday, 23 February 2016. Posted in Blog, First Aid, Training

A stroke is a life-threatening condition that is most common in people aged over 65, but can occur at any time in life, including childhood and infancy. Every year, about 152,000 people in the UK suffer from some kind of stroke and it is the fourth single largest cause of death in the UK. 

Strokes often happen suddenly, without warning. Educating yourself on the signs of a stroke and taking urgent action is vital, as the sooner someone has access to treatment, the less damage their brain is likely to receive.

How do strokes happen?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of a person's brain is cut off. There are two different kinds;

  • Haemorrhagic- when a weakened blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain breaks
  • Ischaemic- where blood supply to the brain is stopped due to a blood clot

In the UK, about 15% of strokes are Haemorrhagic and 85% Ischaemic.

A quarter of strokes in the UK are fatal, and those who survive are often faced with long-term complications. These include problems with walking, speech, balance, vision and bladder and bowel control. In fact, half of all stroke survivors in the UK have a disability and over a third are dependent on others.


The signs of a stroke

Stroke symptoms happen within very quick succession of each other, so if you suspect someone is having a stroke, you must act quickly.

The signs you need to look out for can be remembered with the acronym F.A.S.T; Face, Arms, Speech, Time.

Face - Has the person’s face dropped on one side? Can they smile? Has their mouth or eye dropped?

Arms - Can the person lift both arms in the air and keep them there? Do they have arm weakness or numbness?

Speech - Is the person's speech slurred or strange in any other way? Can they speak at all?

Time - If you notice anyone suffering from these symptoms, it’s time to dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

The longer a person’s brain is left without oxygen, the more damaging to them a stroke will be. Immediate recognition and a fast response from the emergency services can make a potentially fatal difference to someone suffering from a stroke.

Steps you can take to reduce your risks

Research from Stroke UK showed that up to 80% of all strokes can be prevented.

There are certain lifestyle choices you may make that increase your risk of having a stroke. Smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, poor diet and drinking more than the NHS recommended alcohol limit can all increase your risks.

Committing to a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, eating more fruit and vegetables, drinking no more than the NHS recommended alcohol intake and cutting out smoking can help reduce your risks of a stroke.

At Imperative Training, we offer training courses relating to all areas of first aid, such as First Aid at Work, Paediatric First Aid and Emergency First Aid. To find out more, contact our customer service team today on 0845 071 0820.