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Do you know you're having a stroke?
Date:11/25/2008

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A Mayo Clinic study shows a majority of stroke patients don't think they're having a stroke -- and as a result -- delay seeking treatment until their condition worsens. The findings appear in the current issue of Emergency Medicine Journal at http://emj.bmj.com/.

Researchers studied 400 patients who were diagnosed at Mayo Clinic's emergency department with either acute ischemic stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a temporary interruption of blood flow to part of the brain.

Less than half of the patients -- 42 percent -- thought they were having a stroke. In fact, most in the study did not go to the emergency room when symptoms appeared. The median time from onset of symptoms to arrival at the hospital was over three and a half hours. Most said they thought the symptoms would simply go away. The delay in seeking medical help was the same among men and women.

When asked how they knew about stroke symptoms, nearly one-fifth said they thought a stroke always came on gradually. Just over half (51.9 percent) said they thought that seeking medical care immediately was important.

Significance of the findings

"Time is crucial in treating stroke," says Latha Stead, M.D., emergency medicine specialist and lead author of the study. "Each individual's medical background differs and affects recovery, but in general the sooner a patient experiencing a stroke reaches emergency care, the more likely the stroke can be limited and the condition managed to prevent further damage and improve recovery." The researchers say their findings clearly indicate that better public understanding of stroke symptoms will lead to a faster response and better outcomes.

What you should know

Strokes can happen quickly or can occur over several hours, with the condition continually worsening. The thrombus or clot that is causing the stroke can frequent
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Contact: Robert Nellis
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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