Knowledge of stroke warning signs was low among women, especially Hispanics, but generally, women did know to call 911 when they recognized the symptoms, a study found.
To evaluate knowledge of stroke warning signs and what to do, researchers conducted a study of cardiovascular disease awareness that was conducted by the American Heart Association in 2012 among English-speaking U.S. women identified through random-digit dialing.
The women were asked open-ended questions about signs, symptoms and what to do next. Results appeared in Stroke.
Half of women surveyed (51%) knew sudden weakness or numbness of the face or a limb on one side was a warning sign for stroke. This did not vary by race/ethnic group. Next, 44% of women knew that impairments in talking or understanding speech was a sign, and white women knew this more frequently than Hispanic women. But, fewer than 1 in 4 women knew sudden severe headache (23%), unexplained dizziness (20%), or sudden dimness/loss of vision (18%) were warning signs, and 1 in 5 (20%) did not know even 1 stroke warning sign.
The majority of women said that they would call 911 first if they thought they were experiencing signs of a stroke (84%), and this did not vary among various races.
Researchers noted that women generally know what to do when experiencing signs of stroke, but at least half would not be able to recognize the signs. “Effective clinical counseling strategies and public awareness campaigns, such as the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Spot a Stroke FAST (Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to call 911) campaign, are needed to reach diverse populations of women,” they wrote.