Fall 2013 – Public Stroke Knowledge – Those Most at Risk, Least Able to Identify Symptoms

Public Stroke Knowledge – Those Most at Risk, Least Able to Identify Symptoms.
Zachary Jarou*, Nathaniel Harris, Liza Gill, Meena Azizi, Shayef Gabasha, Robert LaBril.
College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA


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*Corresponding author: Zachary Jarou; zachjarou[at]gmail.com
Key Words: Stroke; CVA; Risk Factors; Warning Signs; Patient Education; Public Health.

Background and purpose: Fewer than 1 in 20 patients with acute ischemic stroke are treated with thrombolytic drugs, with three quarters of otherwise eligible patients being excluded secondary to delay in seeking medical treatment. Lack of symptom recognition may contribute to low treatment rates and is an important focus of public health education. The purpose of this study was to determine if an individual’s cumulative number of stroke risk factors correlated with their ability to identify stroke symptoms. Methods: We surveyed adults about their stroke risk factors and knowledge of stroke symptoms at grocery stores and malls in a medium-sized university town in the Midwestern US. Results: In total, 245 adults completed surveys. Self-reported risk factors included high blood pressure (25%), high cholesterol (22%), diabetes (12%), tobacco use (11%), alcohol use (7%), heart disease (7%), and prior stroke (3%). Cumulatively, 56% of respondents had no risk factors, 41% had 13 risk factors, and 4% had 4risk factors. When administered a six-point stroke symptom knowledge test, respondents with 4 risk factors were significantly less knowledgeable, receiving a mean score of 3.2, compared to those with 13 risk factors, who scored a mean of 4.6. Those with four or more years of college were significantly more knowledgeable than those with only a high-school education, receiving mean scores of 4.6 and 3.9, respectively. There was no association between stroke knowledge and use of a primary care physician. Conclusions: Although it is known that individuals with more risk factors are more likely to have a stroke, in our study these respondents were less able to recognize stroke symptoms compared to respondents with fewer risk factors. Future public stroke awareness campaigns should be targeted toward those most at risk so they learn to recognize stroke symptoms and thus seek treatment in a timely manner.
Published: September 30, 2013
Senior Editor: Jack Mettler
Junior Editor: Tim Smith
DOI: Pending
Jarou Z, Harris N, Gill L, Azizi M, Gabasha S, LaBril R. Public Stroke Knowledge – Those Most at Risk, Least Able to Identify Symptoms. Medical Student Research Journal. 2013;3(Fall):3-8.
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Kevin Patterson

Executive Editor
Kevin Charles Patterson is a fourth year medical student at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. He is in his eighth year at MSU after graduating with a B.S. in Human Biology and a B.S. in Microbiology, both in 2010. He is considering a career in internal medicine with a combined scientist training program in residency; after residency, his plans include the possibility of a fellowship and the ultimate goal of practicing academic medicine. Editor Note (2013-14): Kevin graduated, matched, and is a resident in Internal Medicine at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.