Most People Cant Identify Stroke Symptoms

A new study shows that most people can't identify even one symptom of stroke -- the number one cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in this country. And the people most likely to suffer a stroke -- those over 75 years old -- are the least likely to know the symptoms of stroke and whether they're at risk for having a stroke.

In interviews with more than 1,800 individuals in the greater Cincinnati area only slightly more than half could list at least one stroke symptom and only 68 percent could name one stroke risk factor. The study, led by Arthur Pancioli, M.D., and Joseph Broderick, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), will appear in the April 22, 1998, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).*

The study was conducted between March and September 1995 through telephone interviews in the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area. This region has a large biracial population and is similar to the U.S. population in age, gender, annual income, and percentage of African-Americans.

One of the most striking findings reported by the investigators was that the respondents older than 75, the highest risk group for stroke, knew the least about stroke. While 60 percent of the participants under age 75 could identify one stroke symptom and 72 percent could name one risk factor, only 47 percent of those in the older group could identify one symptom of stroke and only 56 percent could name one stroke risk factor.

"This study points out the need for more extensive public education about stroke, especially in the most vulnerable population of the very old. Because we now know that every minute counts in stroke treatment, people must learn how to read the signals that are telling them to seek medical help so that they can take immediate action," said John R. Marler, M.D., of the NINDS Division of Stroke, Trauma,

Contact: Margo Warren
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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