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First Aid - What to do if a stroke is suspected (Apoplex)

Estimated reading time 6 min. Published 06.09.2018
First Aid - what to do if stroke is suspected (Apoplex): "Time is brain" is often cited by experts in the context of a stroke, because every stroke is an emergency and every minute counts! The faster the victim can be helped by the ambulance and later by stroke experts, the higher are not only the chances of survival, but also the chances of a successful rehabilitation.
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Stroke suspected

In Germany, about 270,000 people suffer from an apoplex every year and about 60,000 of them do not survive. If a stroke is suspected, the time factor plays the most important role, because the faster the victim can be helped by the ambulance and later by stroke experts, not only the chances of survival are higher, but also the chances of a successful rehabilitation.

The more time elapses between the first signs and the treatment of the stroke, the more irreversible damage to the brain can occur due to the deficiency. This can lead to the patient's need of care. A stroke in the right hemisphere usually means that the left side of the body is affected. The symptoms on the right side of the body indicate that the cerebral infarction is in the left hemisphere.

What are typical warning signs?

The warning signs of a stroke may vary from case to case, depending on which region of the brain is affected by the stroke. A stroke, however, always means the occurrence of neurological deficits and disorders. The causes of these neurological disorders and failures are usually blood clots, thrombosis as well as vasoconstriction. You can summarize the most important symptoms in a simplified way.

How to recognize a stroke:

  • full or half-sided paralysis (hemiplegia and hemiparesis)
  • numbness
  • vision problems (double or blurred vision, limited field of vision or even complete loss of vision)
  • dizziness and balance disorders
  • severe headache with possible side effects such as nausea and vomiting
  • speech and comprehension disorders (from mild disorders to complete loss of speech ability)
  • drooping eyelids and / or corners of the mouth
  • extremely high blood pressure
  • unconsciousness
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With the help of the "FAST" test, a stroke can be detected quickly:

Face (face, hanging corner of the mouth)
Arm (arm or leg can not be moved)
Speech (slurred, faded language)
Time (time, call the ambulance)

It is always advisable to call the ambulance, even if you are unsure if it is actually a stroke.

During the telephone call, mention the distress message as a stroke because patients who arrive in a hospital within three hours and are treated in stroke units have significantly better chances of survival and rehabilitation.

Therefore, avoid calling the GP first!

First aid measures according to the German Red Cross

Alert the rescue service immediately with the telephone number 112 (applies Europe-wide!) or 911 (USA)

Inform the emergency department about the following:

  • that there is a suspicion of a stroke
  • give the person's address or detailed whereabouts
  • give your name
  • enter your phone number for a possible callback
  • do not hang up before being prompted

Control the signs of life (normal breathing, coughing, other movement of the affected person)

  • Control of the vital signs:
  1. watch, respond, touch
  2. call the emergency
  3. check breathing
  4. if there is no breathing, give artificial respiration twice
  • check breathing again and watch for coughing or movements
  • are no signs of life are present: cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • if necessary, carry out life-saving measures
  • if the affected person is conscious, put him in a comfortable position with his upper body raised
  • cushion the affected body parts and look after the person affected until the rescue service arrives - do not leave the person alone!
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  • If unconscious, put the person in the recovery position
  1. kneel next to the side of the victim and stretch the affected person's legs
  2. place the affected person's near arm at an angle over the affected person's head so that the palm of the hand points upwards
  3. grab the far arm of the affected person by the wrist and cross it in front of the chest and place the back of the hand on the person's cheek; do not let go of the hand
  4. grab the far thigh and bend the affected person's leg
  5. pull the affected person over towards you and align the upper leg with the thigh at a right angle to the hip
  6. to keep the airway clear, tilt the head back and open the affected person's mouth slightly
  7. align the hand on the cheek so that the airways remain clear
  8. cover the person concerned; use the emergency blanket to make sure that the golden side of the blanket is exposed to the outside to keep warmth
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What you should pay attention to in addition
  • loosen tight clothing (belt, collar, tie)
  • do not give any liquids or medications as there may be a risk of dysphagia
  • try to talk calmly to the victim and not panic
  • open windows
  • keep the airways clear and remove any scraps of food or dentures
  • if the rescue service arrives try to inform them as briefly as possible about the observed symptoms, about the time of the appearance of the first symptoms and possible pre-existing conditions of the affected person. If possible, give the ambulance a list of the medications the person is taking regularly
  • if you are more than two people, send the second person to the street to brief the rescue service
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Facts and figures
  • about 70% of patients who experience a transient circulatory disorder of the brain (TIA, transient ischemic attack) or a "miniscule seizure" do not recognize this.
  • 30% of patients postpone a medical examination for more than 24 hours and do not fully exploit the possibilities of acute prevention.
  • according to the WHO (World Health Organization), the stroke is the leading cause of death for people older than 60 years.
  • the stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in people between 15 and 59 years of age.
  • even children and even newborns can suffer a stroke. In Germany, there are about 300 children every year who are affected by a stroke.
  • according to the Ärzte Zeitung (Doctors Newspaper), a new stroke occurs every three minutes in Germany alone, and one stroke patient dies every nine minutes.
  • costs for inpatient and outpatient medical treatment, rehabilitation and care for patients with stroke will be approximately € 109 billion by 2025 in Germany alone.
  • up to 70% of those in need of care are cared for by their relatives at home - free of charge.
  • about 70% of strokes could be prevented by preventive measures.