A new study, which was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism meeting and simultaneously published online in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, has found that almost 50% of the women in the US, especially Hispanics, are unaware of the warning signs of stroke.
The study, which was presented by Heidi Mochari-Greenberger from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, is very significant because it is women compared to men, who are more susceptible to suffer from stroke in their old age. This is because women are more likely to have a longer life span than men.
The study was conducted on 1205 women above the age of 25 who were a part of cardiovascular disease awareness project conducted by the American Heart Association in 2012. The women’s knowledge about the warning signs of stroke was assessed through a number of open ended questions.
Weakness of one side of the body as a warning sign of stroke
The researchers observed that sudden weakness of one side of the body/ numbness on one side of the face was recognized as a warning sign of stroke by 51% of the women, irrespective of their ethnicity. A total of 48% of the white women recognized difficulty in speaking as a warning sign of stroke compared to 36% of Hispanic women.
A total of only 23% recognized sudden severe headache, 20% recognized unexplained dizziness and 18% recognized sudden loss of vision as warning signs of stroke.
What was even more amazing was that 20% of the women did not recognize even a single warning sign of stroke. However, the majority of the women knew that they have to dial 911 emergency services if they felt they were experiencing a stroke.
Public health awareness campaigns, by the American Heart Association, focus on the acronym FAST to improve recognition of the early warning signs of stroke, where F stands for face drooping, A stands for arm weakness, S stands for speech difficulty and T stands for time to call 911.
Only half of the women in the US above the age of 25 recognize the early warning signs of stroke. This leads to a delay in the start of treatment and a higher rate of morbidity in addition to increased medical expenditures.
- Heidi MG, Towfighi A and Mosca L. National Women’s Knowledge of Stroke Warning Signs, Overall and by Race/Ethnic Group. STROKE,AHA.113.004242