Prevention is the best option

How can we identify if a person is suffering a stroke?

Com podem identificar si una persona està patint un ictus?

A stroke is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect a stroke, you must act as quickly as possible, as brain cells that die are not recovered and their function will stay damaged.

Therefore, if you think a person might be suffering a stroke, you should carry out three quick tests and, if at least one gives reason for concern, you should contact 112 urgently.


Symptoms of stroke

  • Ask the person to lift both arms at once to check if there is anything unusual. If the person is unable to lift one or the other arm due to lack of strength, this may be a symptom of a stroke. If they feel weakness in the legs, ask them to sit up and lift both feet at the same time.
  • Make them smile to check whether the corner of their lips is twisted to one side (crooked mouth). Facial paralysis is often related to stroke, and may be accompanied by a tingling sensation. Sometimes vision loss can also occur.
  • Ask specific things such as pointing at an object and asking what it is, or what is happening around them. The goal is to see if they change the order of the syllables or mispronounce the name of the object; see if they change the order of syllables, and if they respond with interspersed or incoherent words, as well as seeing if there is difficulty speaking and understanding speech. 

First aid 

Every minute, 1.9 million neurons and 14 trillion neural connections are lost: one hour means 3.6 years of brain aging and a loss of 120 million neurons. If you suspect a person may be having a stroke, call 112 quickly. Before medical services arrive:

  • Keep the patient calm and still. 
  • If possible, have them lie down to improve cerebral perfusion.
  • If they are unconscious and breathing, place them in a safe position on their side.
  • Do not lift the head (unless vomiting or breathing poorly).
  • Do not administer drugs not prescribed by a medical authority.
  • Call the emergency services number to check the most appropriate hospital and they will notify the hospital you are on your way so they can prepare.
  • Avoid intermediate levels (health centre, family doctor, etc.) so as not to delay the start of emergency treatment.




Estela Sanjuan
Research nurse. Coordinator of research and clinical trials at the Stroke Research Group at the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute.

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