Those who have it, don’t know they have it. I am referring to the high risk for stroke and people’s awareness. And that is exactly what one of the papers presented at American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2009 found out.
The researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the world’s largest ongoing telephone health survey. Since 1984, the BRFSS has been tracking health information of Americans. The data analyzed included responses from 86,573 adults from 11 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The survey also included answering five questions specific for stroke, mainly on symptoms and actions during stroke (e.g. call 9-1-1).
The five most common warning signs of stroke are
- sudden weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly if the weakness occurs on only one side of the body
- sudden severe headache
- sudden vision disturbance in one or both eyes;
- sudden confusion or difficulty speaking; and/or
- sudden dizziness, loss of balance, loss of coordination or difficulty walking.
The results of the survey were a bit disappointing and some key points are summarized below:
- 93% of those asked knew a couple of the obvious symptoms especially the numbness.
- 59% of those surveyed didn’t recognize the less obvious symptoms such as a severe headache.
- Only 37% of those surveyed recognized all five warning signs of stroke as listed above.
What is surprising is that some people who have had stroke have less stroke awareness than others who haven’t had one!
When looking at the data more closely, the researchers found that certain demographic factors play a role in stroke awareness.
Ethnicity: Whites have better stroke awareness (40%) compared to blacks (31%) and Hispanics (21%).
Education attainment: 46% of those with a college education knew more about stroke vs. 19% of those with high school level education.
Income: 45% of those with income above $50,000 a year are more aware of stroke that those who earn less $25,000 a year.
Gender: Women knew better (40%) than men (34%).
Marital status: Married people (40%) are more aware of stroke than their single counterparts (32%).
Need to brush up on your stroke awareness? The Stroke Collaborative (Give Me 5!) is a joint initiative by the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, American College of Emergency Physicians and American Academy of Cardiology to help spread stroke awareness.
Here are five ways to check if someone is having a stroke:
Remember: only one of these symptoms is enough to indicate a stroke. Call 9-1-1