Watch me use this blog for some good!
This is easily the most important thing you will learn today – unless you learn how to give CPR or how to solve world hunger or something. I’m going to tell you how to detect a stroke and how to cure a certain type of stroke. You can easily save someone’s life with this simple information.
Strokes are caused by a loss of oxygenated blood to parts of the brain, and they can kill you or cause serious lifelong debilitation. They can be caused by head injuries and the like, or spring up out of nowhere. Even young people in their twenties can have sudden strokes, so don’t just think it’s an old-people thing.
So first, how can you be sure someone’s had a stroke? Well, a favorite mnemonic is the first three letters of STROKE:
Smile. Have the person try to smile at you – check to make sure their face is symmetric and that the smile is natural.
Talk. Have the person say a full sentence or two – make sure they are coherent.
Raise both arms. Have the person lift both arms above their head.
If a person has problems with ANY ONE of these, get them to a hospital like right freaking now. If they pass the test, keep checking over the next few hours to make sure things haven’t changed. Strokes are messy and things will often change. The moment they do, get that person to a hospital like right freaking now. (Your time window is a few hours wide at best.)
DO NOT EVER FEEL STUPID OR OVERCONCERNED FOR CARING ENOUGH ABOUT SOMEONE TO TAKE THEM TO THE HOSPITAL. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY.
Before I explain the most critical reason why you take them to that hospital (like right freaking now), you have to know there are two major types of stroke: hemorrhagic and ischemic. Hemorrhagic strokes involve a hemorrhage – a burst blood vessel or something that causes a bleed in the brain (nasty falls often cause hemorrhagic strokes). Ischemic strokes are caused by a blockage preventing the movement of blood – for example a blood clot that blocks an artery. (And don’t worry – you shouldn’t have to know these words when you walk into the hospital, they should know it for you.)
If you get your stroke victim to the hospital and tell the staff you think they have had a STROKE (note the emphasis on both of those critical items), the very first thing the hospital ought to be doing is getting an MRI or a CT scan of that person’s brain. If the hospital doesn’t order a brain image for your stroke victim, INSIST that they do it IMMEDIATELY.
Here’s why: You can tell the difference between a hemorrhagic and an ischemic stroke using these imaging methods. Ischemic strokes (caused by clots) can be treated with blood thinners, while giving blood thinners for hemorrhagic strokes (caused by bleeds) will kill people. Hemorrhagic strokes can be dealt with surgically.
So for example, if the stroke is ischemic and you’ve caught it within 2-3 hours, the hospital can administer blood-thinning drugs...
...And that person can walk away from their stroke with no problems whatsoever. Zero.
That, my friends, is a miracle. TELL THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW AND SAVE LIVES.