Strokes are a medical emergency and need immediate treatment because when blood flow to your brain stops for any reason, brain cells begin to die within a matter of minutes. The more common type of stroke is called ischemic stroke and occurs when a blood clot from any part of your body travels to and blocks a blood vessel in the brain. The second type of stroke is called hemorrhagic stroke, resulting from a blood vessel in the brain that breaks and bleeds into the brain. Transient ischemic attacks (TIA), or mini strokes, happen when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted, usually for a period of about one minute but less than five minutes, and don't cause injury to the brain, due to the short duration. TIA is an important predictor of stroke.
The warning signs of a TIA or stroke are all sudden and include:
Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, particularly on just one side of the body
Trouble speaking or understanding
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Loss of balance or coordination
Severe headache with no known cause
First Aid for Stroke
For any symptoms call 911 immediately, as prompt medical attention can prevent a fatal or disabling stroke from occurring. Then do the following:
Check for ABCs and start CPR if necessary.
Place unconscious person in the recovery position as outlined in Chapter 2.
Lay the person down gently, supporting his head and shoulders with a pillow or folded garment.
Don't give him anything to eat or drink.
Reassure the person that help is on the way.