Do You Know the Signs of Stroke?

Stroke urgency may be underestimated, symptoms ignored by majority of young adults, survey suggests

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) A new national survey suggests the vast majority of young adults may not know the signs of a stroke.

The survey, conducted by Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, found that nearly 3 out of 4 young adults may underestimate the urgency of stroke symptoms and would likely delay going to the hospital for help.

Researchers asked more than 1,000 people across the US what they would do if they experienced the most common symptoms of stroke: weakness, numbness, speech difficulty and vision difficulty.

Among adults younger than 45, only about 1 out of 3 said they would be very likely to seek medical attention right away. A staggering 73 percent said they would likely wait to see if their symptoms improved.

"That's a real problem," said David Liebeskind, MD, director of Outpatient Stroke and Neurovascular Programs at Reagan Medical Center, in a press release. "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."

Stroke can affect anyone, at any age, at any time. In fact, since the mid-90s, the number of strokes affecting patients younger than 45 has increased by as much as 53 percent.

It's also estimated that nearly 800,000 people in the US experience stroke each year. That’s one every 40 seconds. And for every person who dies from stroke, more than 5 times that many will survive.

Most patients (about 85 percent) experience what is known as ischemic stroke, during which blood vessels in the brain become blocked, cutting off oxygen. This type of stroke can cause temporary or permanent disability, depending on how long the brain was deprived of oxygen.

Within three hours after a patient experiences his or her first stroke symptom is often referred to as the "golden window." Doctors say this period of time is crucial for patients to receive medical care to restore blood flow to the brain and minimize damage.

"Timely treatment for stroke is probably more important than for almost any other medical problem there is," Dr. Liebeskind said. "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."

If you or someone you know is experiencing any stroke symptoms, it's important to act "F.A.S.T." and call 911 right away. F.A.S.T. stands for Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 911.

Review Date: 
January 8, 2016
Last Updated:
January 11, 2016