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Report Finds Women are Unfamiliar with Stroke Warning Signs

Update Date: Mar 19, 2014 04:08 PM EDT

Since stroke care and recovery are highly dependent on time, identifying stroke symptoms and seeking care right away can make a huge difference. However, according to a new study, researchers found that women are still unfamiliar with the warning signs of a stroke, which could hinder their care.

"This lack of recognition of stroke signs and symptoms could be a significant barrier to reducing death and disability related to stroke in the United States," said Lori Mosca, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., principal investigator of the study. "This is critically important because delays in getting care costs lives and hinders functional recovery."

In this study, the researchers interviewed 1,205 American women via the telephone in 2012. At the time of the survey, the women were aged 25 or older. The survey asked them about many different symptoms of a stroke. They found that 51 percent of the women stated that sudden weakness or numbness on one particular side of the face, arms, or legs could indicate a stroke. 44 percent stated that difficulty speaking, which could come out as garbled speech, is a warning sign of a stroke. 23 percent knew that sudden severe headaches could be a sign of stroke and 20 percent stated that unexplained dizziness could also be a warning sign.. Lastly, 18 percent knew that sudden vision loss could indicate a stroke.

The participants were made up of over 50 percent white, 17 percent black, 17 percent Hispanic and 12 percent other. The researchers found that Hispanic women were less likely to know the majority of the symptoms associated with a stroke. A quarter of them were unable to name any of the symptoms, where as only 18 percent of white women and 19 percent of black women could not name any of the warning signs. Overall, 84 percent of the women interviewed stated that they knew the importance of calling 9-1-1 if they believed they had a stroke.

Since strokes affect women more than men, it is extremely important that women are educated about the warning signs of a stroke. The American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association has a nationwide campaign centered on the acronym, F.A.S.T. F.A.S.T stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 9-1-1.

The study was published in the American Heart Association's journal, Stroke.

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