What to Do if You’re Having a Stroke?

by Yuyu. Published on February 08, 2022

Stroke death is the third leading cause of death in Singapore, after heart disease and cancer. In fact, approximately 1 stroke occurs daily in Singapore and could result in damage to your brain function if not treated immediately. The good news is that due to faster medical response times, chances of survival have increased.

The likelihood of having a stroke is low. But, it can happen to anyone, anytime. This might sound terrifying, but it actually just means that we all need to learn what to do during a medical emergency.

Recognize the Symptoms of a Stroke

Stroke symptoms are different for everyone, and not all of them happen at once. For example, one person may have trouble with speech and another person may have difficulty seeing. Some people have temporary weakness or numbness in one part of the body that goes away. Still, others have painful sensations such as burning or prickling.

Early symptoms of a stroke to watch out for:

Face drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?

Arm weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech difficulty – Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Act FAST

A stroke is caused by a blockage or rupture in a blood vessel supplying the brain. The brain cells then become starved of oxygen, resulting in a loss of brain function.

As every minute counts, it is important to recognize the signs and act fast when someone is having a stroke.

One way to do so is to remember the FAST acronym, says the Health Promotion Board.

This stands for:

  • Facial weakness – can they smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  • Arm weakness – can they raise both arms?
  • Speech problems – can they speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred? Do they understand what you say?
  • Time to call 999 and get medical attention immediately if you see any one of these signs.

Know the Different Types of Strokes

There are 3 different types of strokes you should know about:

Ischemic Stroke

This is caused by a clot that blocks the blood supply to a part of the brain.

The common cause of ischemic stroke is atherosclerosis. It's a process where a fatty substance called plague collects in your artheries and narrows them which slows down the flow of blood.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

This is caused by a blood vessel in the brain that bursts and bleeds into the surrounding tissue.

The most common causes of hemorrhagic stroke is high blood pressure.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Also known as a mini-stroke, this is caused by a temporary blockage in an artery supplying blood to the brain, which then resolves on its own. While the symptoms usually last for a few minutes or may go away within 24 hours, it could be a warning sign of an impending stroke.

It's estimated that 87% of strokes are ischemic.

Call For Help

A stroke can happen at any time. It is a medical emergency and every minute counts. The faster you recognize the symptoms of a stroke and get emergency treatment, the greater the chance of survival and recovery.

When someone is having a stroke, it's vital that you call for help as soon as possible. Not only will the patient's life be at risk, but he or she may also suffer from long-term disability if not treated early enough.

Stay Calm and Get to the Hospital Quickly

Don't drive yourself if you're having a stroke, call for an ambulance. If you can't get to the hospital within 60 minutes, call an ambulance anyway. It's better to get there too early than too late.

Tell emergency room staff that you may be having a stroke. Get checked immediately at the emergency room, even if your symptoms suddenly disappear (they may just have been temporary).

Put Together an Emergency Kit

If you suspect that you or someone you know is having a stroke, immediately seek medical assistance. For well-preparedness in the event of a stroke, Put together an emergency kit for your home with items such as a first aid kit (with medications), a flashlight, and important numbers such as your doctor’s phone number and the 24-hour hotline for the National University Hospital (NUH) Department of Emergency Medicine.

If you experience symptoms of a stroke or think that you or someone you know is having one, call 995 immediately.

Conclusion

Just remember, as with most medical emergencies, there is always an upside if you know what to do. In the case of a stroke, knowing how to spot the warning signs means that you can immediately receive treatment before it's too late. And since strokes are largely preventable through lifestyle changes such as healthy eating and regular exercise, you can be sure that your best bet in the event of a stroke is getting the proper treatment as soon as possible.