Sometimes a stroke is caused by a burst blood vessel when the internal bleeding in the skull causes pressure on brain tissue. At first, the patient may have a severe headache, but it can lead to paralysis down one side of the body and even the loss of the ability to speak.
Occasionally a person may have a minor stroke in which there is weakness down one side of the
body and/or loss of speech for a few minutes only. This is called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and is usually followed by a full recovery. Other attacks may happen later and a major stroke may occur at any time.
Symptoms and signs – Not all may be present
- tingling, weakness or numbness down one side of the body
- loss of muscle tone of the face muscles, with dribbling from one side
- blurred or double vision
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- loss of speech or the uttering of meaningless
- loss of balance and coordination
- deteriorating conscious state or unconsciousness
How you can help
1. Assess the patient’s level of consciousness
- If unconscious and breathing normally, or if not fully alert, place the patient on their side in a supported position.
Call 111 for an ambulance.
It is important for the patient to be assessed as soon as possible because treatment must be started within 1 to 2 hours if a clot is present in the brain.
2. Care for a conscious patient
- Assist a conscious patient into the position of greatest comfort
- Cover the patient to reduce heat loss.
3. Observe the patient
- While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, observe the patient closely for any change in condition.
- If there is any deterioration in the patient’s conscious state, turn the patient on their side in a supported position.
Although the experience of suffering a stroke is very frightening for the patient, if prompt medical treatment is given followed by rehabilitation therapy over a period of time, improvement is achievable for many.
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