But in a study in the journal Stroke, Kleindorfer and her colleagues examined whether a simple acronym, FAST -- meaning "face, arms, speech, time" -- might be better at capturing stroke patients than the typical list of symptoms. Within the populations studied, more than 88 percent of patients had symptoms included in FAST. It missed some stroke patients, especially those with bleeding in the brain, because the acronym doesn't include headache. Still, she thinks it may be a better way to educate the public.
"It may miss a few, but it's easier to remember, and maybe that is more important and we need to study that," Kleindorfer said.
Getting that message to the public is, of course, another challenge.
Kleindorfer has been exploring different venues for education, even local beauty shops. Her research team taught stroke symptoms to hairdressers in African-American-run salons in Cincinnati and Atlanta who, in turn, talked to their clients about stroke. Before-and-after measurements showed a significant increase in the women's knowledge of stroke.
"I think it's working with the community, instead of at the community, and getting more ownership of the problem within communities, especially high-risk communities, that's going to be the way to go," she said.
To learn more about the signs of stroke, visit the Stroke Awareness Foundation.
SOURCES: Virginia J. Howard, M.S.P.H., epidemiologist, University of Alabama-Birmingham; James C. Grotta, M.D., pr
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