A cerebrovascula accident or stoke occurs when blood supplies to the brain are disrupted. This causes brain cells to die. Some of the causes of a stroke include narrowing of the small arteries in the brain or hardening of the arteries leading to the brain.
If you feel you or believe someone else is experiencing a stroke, immediate emergency medical attention is imperative. Call 911 or go to an emergency room to confirm the diagnosis. Urgent medical decisions are needed to decide whether clot busting drugs need to be administered to reverse the effects of a stroke. A very small window from the beginning of symptoms to using clot busting therapy is available; perhaps only minutes. If there are delays, the opportunity to intervene is gone.
What You Should do in the Event of a Stroke
Immediate medical attention is necessary to prevent depilating and long lasting effects of a stroke. If you call first for an ambulance and while waiting for the paramedics or EMTs the following first aids may help.
- Have the affected person lie flat. This promotes an optimal blood flow to the brain.
- If unresponsiveness or nausea are present, roll the affected person on their side to prevent vomiting or choking.
- If the patient has been taking aspirin to prevent strokes, stop administering aspirin immediately.
If you suspect a stroke, follow CPSS or the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale. This includes smiling and ensuring that the face is moving symmetrically, raising both arms above the head and watching for weakness on either side of the body, speaking a simple sentence. If any of these actions cannot be performed, call 911 immediately.
Blockage of an artery or blood vessel can cause stroke. A single vessel can disturb a very small area of the brain and affected tissues will die.
- Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries heading to the brain will cause a stroke. Four main blood vessels provide the brain with blood and perform the following duties:
- The anterior circulation of the brain that controls motor abilities, sensation, speech, thought and motion is supplied by the carotid arteries.
- Posterior circulation supplies the brainstem