Study: One in three young adults unaware of stroke symptoms

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Nearly 30% of adults 45 and younger in the United States do not know all five of the most common symptoms of a stroke, according to a study published Monday by the journal Stroke.

About 3% of study participants could not name a single stroke symptom, the data showed.


The five most common symptoms are numbness of face, arm, or leg; confusion and trouble speaking; difficulty walking, dizziness and loss of balance; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; and severe headache.

"While the medical community has made significant improvements to reduce the severity and complications of strokes with early interventions, these efforts are of limited value if patients do not recognize stroke symptoms," study co-author Dr. Khurram Nasir said in a statement.

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"Time is critical for treating stroke [and] the earlier people recognize symptoms, the better their chances are to reduce long-term disability from stroke," sad Nasir, chief of the division of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center.

Stroke is among the leading causes of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. Each year, 10% to 15% of the nearly 795,000 people who have a stroke nationally are young adults age 18 to 45, according to AHA.


Although stroke incidence is declining in the general population, incidence and hospitalizations among young adults have increased by more than 40% in the past several decades, the AHA said.

For this study, Nasir and his colleagues analyzed responses from 9,844 younger adults to the 2017 National Health Interview Survey, which asked several questions about stroke and its symptoms.

The nearly 10,000 respondents statistically represents 107.2 million young adults in the U.S. population, the researchers said.

Among the respondents, 29% were not aware of all five common stroke symptoms, the data showed. About 3% of respondents, representing nearly 3 million young adults, were not aware of any stroke symptom, according to the researchers.

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Hispanic adults and adults not born in the United States were about twice as likely to be unaware of any of the common stroke symptoms, compared with non-Hispanic White people and those born in the United States, the researchers said.

Young adults with a high school diploma or lower education level were nearly three-times as likely to be unaware of any stroke symptom, compared to young adults with higher education levels, they said.

In addition, nearly 3% of young adults surveyed would not contact emergency medical services if they saw someone experiencing stroke symptoms, the data showed.


"With the growing risk of stroke among younger adults in the U.S., our study sheds light on particularly vulnerable individuals and communities that already experience a disproportionately greater burden of stroke and cardiovascular risk factors, as well as reduced access to health care services," Nasir said.

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