is a life-threatening condition that is most common in people aged over 60, but can occur at any time in life. Stroke is the second most common cause of death and the first leading cause of disability in developed and developing countries. No large scale studies are available to determine the true incidence of stroke in Pakistan. Estimated annual incidence is 250/100,000, translating to 350,000 new cases every year. WHO says that 1 in every 6 suffers stroke once in lifetime.
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 three different kinds;
- Haemorrhagic– when a weakened blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain bursts.
- Ischaemic– where blood supply to the brain is stopped due to a blood clot.
- Transient Ischaemic– where blood supply to the brain is temporarily stopped.
In Pakistan, about 13% of strokes are Haemorrhagic and 87% Ischaemic. A stroke is fatal, and those who survive are often faced with long-term complications, even disability of some type. These include problems with walking, speech, balance, vision and bladder and bowel control. In fact, half of all stroke survivors have a disability and over a third are dependent on others.
Early Recognition – Saves Lives:
Stroke symptoms happen within very quick succession of each other, so if you suspect someone is confused, has severe sudden headache, unable to speak/understand, sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, s/he might be having a stroke and you must act quickly so BE-FAST.
Be Ready, Take Pre-cautions but BE-FAST in an emergency:
Not all the warning signs occur in every stroke. Don’t ignore signs of stroke, even if they go away!
Check the time. When did the first warning sign or symptom start? You’ll be asked this important question later.
If you have one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don’t delay! Seek immediate medical attention!
If you’re with someone who may be having stroke symptoms, immediately call one of the emergency rescue service numbers. Expect the person to protest — denial is common. Don’t take “no” for an answer. Insist on taking prompt action.
The signs you need to look out for can be remembered with the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T. Stroke is always a medical emergency. Remembering the signs of stroke and acting FAST could mean saving a life.
Balance – Is the person unsteady on his feet?
Eyes – Vision in one or both eyes lost?
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? See if one arm drifts back.
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 EMS (1122 in Punjab/any other concerned number) 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 by a bystander 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 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 drugs abuse can increase your risks.
Committing to a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, eating more fruit and vegetables, and cutting out smoking can help reduce your risks of a stroke.
At First Aid to Save a Life Pakistan, we offer training courses relating to all areas of first aid, such as First Aid, CPR & AED for Adults, Pediatric First Aid, CPR and AED, CPR and AED for All (Adult, Children & Infants), Emergency Oxygen First Aid, First Aid Instructor Development Course, Bloodborne Pathogens. To find out more contact us today on 0345 5656307 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
To Your Health & Safety,
Faisal Javed Mir & First Aid to Save a Life Pakistan