Blog | Friday, February 20, 2009

Stroke 2009: Young and dismissed


It's a small study, but no less disturbing for that. Apparently, if you are unlucky enough to have a stroke at the ripe old age of 34, you have the additional bad luck of possibly being misdiagnosed because you don't fit the typical profile of a middle age-to-older patient.

Researchers reviewed data on 57 stroke patients, age 16-50 years, from the Young Stroke Registry at Wayne State's Comprehensive Stroke Center, and found 14% were misdiagnosed and sent home. They were told they were having vertigo, or migraine, or alcohol intoxication, but were later found to have had a stroke.

The study didn't compare this rate of misdiagnosis to that of a more typical (i.e., older) stroke population, but some of the specific examples are chilling. An 18-year-old guy was told the numbness on his left side was due to being drunk; a 37-year-old who had trouble speaking was told she was having a seizure; and a 48-year-old with blurred vision, an off-balance walk and trouble speaking was told she had an inner ear disorder.