Stroke First Aid

A stroke occurs when there’s bleeding into your brain or when normal blood flow to your brain is blocked. Within minutes of being deprived of essential nutrients, brain cells start dying — a process that may continue over the next several hours.


In the event of a possible stroke, use FAST to help remember warning signs.

  • Face. Does the face droop on one side while trying to smile?
  • Arms. Is one arm lower when trying to raise both arms?
  • Speech. Can a simple sentence be repeated? Is speech slurred or strange?
  • Time. During a stroke every minute counts. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

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
  • nausea
  • loss of bladder or bowel control
  • loss of speech or the uttering of meaningless sounds
  • loss of balance and coordination
  • deteriorating conscious state or unconsciousness
  • headache

Seek immediate medical assistance. A stroke is a true emergency. The sooner treatment is given, the more likely it is that damage can be minimized. Every moment counts.

Phone your area rescue/emergency number for an ambulance or ask someone else to make the phone call.

 While waiting for help How you can help

  1. Assess the patient’s level of consciousness

Ask the person their name. If someone has had a stroke, they may not be able to talk, so grasp both their hands and ask them to squeeze — they may respond by squeezing one of your hands.

Does the person respond? If so, they are conscious.

If the person is conscious:

  • lie the person down with their head and shoulders raised and supported (use pillows or cushions);
  • keep them at a comfortable temperature;
  • loosen any tight clothing;
  • wipe away any secretions from the mouth;
  • make sure the airway is clear and open;
  • assure the person that help is on the way (they may be able to communicate by squeezing your hands if they can’t speak) and;
  • do not give them anything to eat or drink.

If the person does not respond, they are probably unconscious.

If unconscious and breathing normally, or if not fully alert, place the patient on their side in a supported position.

If the affected person becomes unconscious, put them in the recovery position (as described below) to prevent anything (blood, saliva, or their tongue) from blocking the windpipe and choking them. Continue to monitor their airway and breathing.

Recovery position.

  • Kneel beside the person.
  • Put their arm that’s farthest from you out at right angles to their body.
  • Place their nearer arm across their chest.
  • Bend their nearer leg up at the knee; the other leg should be straight.
  • While supporting their head and neck, roll the person away from you.
  • When they are on their side, keep their top leg bent at the knee, with the knee touching the ground.


  1. 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.


  1. Note Time When Symptoms First Appeared
  • Tell emergency personnel the exact time when you first noticed symptoms.


Risk factors

Risk factors for stroke include having high blood pressure, having had a previous stroke, smoking, having diabetes and having heart disease. Your risk of stroke increases as you age.

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.