Emergency Treatment for a Stroke

I was very sad to hear that one of my friends in Vancouver recently had a stroke. He has been in a coma in the hospital for the past month. Strokes happen suddenly and can cause serious complications and repercussions, so someone at risk of having a stroke – as well as their family members – should know its warning signs and symptoms and how to treat it in an emergency. Risk factors include hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and senile infirmity.

According to the Eastern medicine, there are some warning signs and symptoms before a real wind stroke hits: paralysis of one side of the body, altered consciousness, awkward speech; a stiff neck; facial flushing and the feeling of heat rising upward; numbness or weakness in the hands and feet, especially in the thumb and index finger; dizziness and nausea; strange sounds in the ear; frequent twitching of the eyelids; a heavy-headed feeling and more frequent headaches, especially in the morning; double or blurry vision; deviated tongue to one side; and eye congestion or bloodshot eyes.

The most important emergency response for a stroke is to call 911 immediately, or “scoop and run” to the hospital. It is difficult to heal if not treated within 3 hours after the first symptoms appear as brain cells may die. Next, the victim him/ herself, or anyone in the vicinity, should do the following while waiting for the 911 responders to arrive: calm the victim down mentally and physically; raise the head higher than the heart to lower blood pressure in the brain; turn the head to one side to prevent food from going into the windpipe if vomiting occurs; and if the body is very hot, apply cold compresses to the forehead and/or chest.

I would also like to recommend another emergency procedure that can be done. It is very simple and effective. It improves circulation so that the lighter symptoms disappear. Even if the symptoms are very severe, this could prevent them from getting worse.

The procedure: prick the tip of each of the ten fingers (we call this acu-point Shixuan Xue) and toes (Qiduan Xue). Use a sterilized needle or lancet, pricking to a depth of approximately 2mm right in the centre of the convex area at the tip of the fingers (see picture below), starting with the thumb of one hand and working your way to the little finger one by one. Squeeze each fingertip to draw 3-5 drops of blood. Stop doing it if the stroke symptoms disappear. If not, continue pricking each subsequent finger of another hand, then move on to the toes.

This technique is especially useful when you are somewhere where emergency responders may have difficulty reaching you, such as when camping in the mountains. It is also good for other emergency situations such as sudden unconsciousness (by any cause), severe headaches, and stomachaches. However, do not forget that this treatment should be temporary, just until 911 responders arrive to help.

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