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Adults younger than 45 are unaware of what Stroke Symptoms are, Study Finds

Update Date: Jan 11, 2016 11:36 AM EST

In order to minimize health consequences from a stroke, people are advised to seek out medical care within three hours of an event. However, in order to receive medical help, people must first be able to realize that they have just suffered from a stroke.

According to a new survey conducted by researchers from the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, many adults younger than 45 are unaware of what stroke symptoms are. The researchers also found that this group of adults is also more likely to delay treatment because they underestimate the symptoms.

"Timely treatment for stroke is probably more important than for almost any other medical problem there is," said David Liebeskind, MD, professor of neurology, Director of Outpatient Stroke and Neurovascular Programs and Director of the Neurovascular Imaging Research Core at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, reported by Medical Xpress. "There is a very limited window in which to start treatment because the brain is very sensitive to a lack of blood flow or to bleeding, and the longer patients wait, the more devastating the consequences."

The survey had asked 1,009 participants what they would do if they experienced symptoms that included, weakness, difficulty speaking, numbness, and/or difficulty seeing. The survey did not inform the participants that these symptoms typically point to a stroke. 446 participants were under 45-years-old.

The team found that one in every three adults under the age of 45 stated that they would go to the hospital. A whopping 73 percent, on the other hand, said that they would wait to see if their symptoms improve over time.

"Strokes don't actually hurt, unlike a heart attack or a fractured bone," Dr. Maxim Hammer, who was not involved with the survey, explained reported by TODAY. "People want to get relief from pain right away. Strokes typically don't come with pain so it's easy for people to ignore it and hope it goes away."

Dr. Hammer is an assistant professor of neurology and vice chairman for clinical affairs in the department of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

"We need to educate younger people about the symptoms of stroke and convince them of the urgency of the situation, because the numbers are going up," said Liebeskind. "Believe it or not, it's on the order of minutes or hours when somebody has to seek medical attention. There simply is no time to wait. It's a message that we clearly need to get to younger people more effectively."

The researchers noted that it is important for people of all ages to know what stroke symptoms are. They reported that since the mid-1990s, the number of people between the ages of 18 and 45, who have suffered from a stroke, increased to as much as 53 percent.

The best way to remember signs of a stroke is through the acronym, "FAST," which stands for: Face dropping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 9-1-1.

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