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Most People Cant Identify Stroke Symptoms

and Neurodegenerative Disorders.

"The best way for patients to receive the most effective stroke treatment is to get to an emergency room as quickly as possible after they've had symptoms -- that's why it is imperative that people know what these symptoms are. People also need to learn about risk factors in order to prevent a stroke in the first place," said Dr. Pancioli.

The NINDS has defined the following as symptoms of a stroke: sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble talking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking or loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause (often described as the worst headache in a person's life). The investigators found that only 57 percent of the study participants correctly listed at least one of these five symptoms or warning signs, 28 percent correctly listed two or more, and 8 percent correctly listed three symptoms. The most frequent symptom the survey respondents listed was dizziness, and the next most common responses were numbness, headaches, and weakness.

The respondents also demonstrated poor knowledge of risk factors for stroke, which include hypertension, cigarette smoking, heart disease, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation. Only 68 percent of the people surveyed correctly listed at least one risk factor; the most commonly listed risk factor was hypertension, followed by stress, poor eating habits, and smoking.

Most people reported getting their information about stroke from television, newspapers, magazines, and doctors in that order, although doctors were the most commonly cited source for African-Americans and for people over age 75.

Dr. Pancioli recommends that education programs include elderly adults and promote the message that "stroke is an emergency -- call 911 immediately." Because stroke patients often have an impa
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Contact: Margo Warren
301/496-5751
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
21-Apr-1998


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