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Too Many Wouldn't Call 911 If Stroke Hit
Date:5/13/2010

In Michigan survey, most said they'd try to get to ER on their own

THURSDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Most people aren't familiar with the symptoms of a stroke and most who are wouldn't do the right thing and call 911 if a stroke occurred, a new survey finds.

"If you know the stroke symptoms and don't know how to react once you see them, that doesn't do you much good," said study author Chris Fussman, an epidemiologist with the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing.

His team will publish its findings online May 13 and in the July print issue of Stroke.

The survey asked more than 4,800 adults to report their reactions to five symptoms, three typical of a stroke (sudden slurred speech, sudden numbness on ode side of the body, sudden blurry vision), two unrelated to strokes (high fever, an injured leg).

Less than 28 percent of those surveyed knew all three stroke warning symptoms, and only about 18 percent of those who recognized the three symptoms said they would call 911.

The results were somewhat better when the answers were calibrated for single symptoms, with 51 percent of those in the survey saying they would call 911 for someone having trouble speaking or understanding, 42 percent making that call for sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body and 20 percent saying they would do so for someone with sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.

"All of these are recognizable and important," Fussman said.

But the most common response to a stroke symptom was the wrong one -- taking the affected person to an emergency room, rather than calling for an ambulance through 911.

"People don't realize why we want to get medical help there as quickly as possible," said Dr. Keith Siller, medical director of the New York University Comprehensive Stroke Care Center in New York City. "We need to treat these patients as quickly as possible. The b
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