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Circulation. 2005 Mar 15;111(10):1321-6.

American Heart Association and American Stroke Association national survey of stroke risk awareness among women.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a major cause of morbidity in women. Awareness of risk may be an important first step in stroke prevention. The purpose of this study was to assess knowledge and awareness about stroke in a nationally representative sample of women.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

An American Heart Association-sponsored telephone survey using random-digit dialing was conducted in June and July of 2003. Respondents were 1024 women > or =25 years of age, including an oversampling of racial/ethnic minorities (68% white, 12% black, 12% Hispanic). Participants were given a standardized questionnaire about heart disease and stroke risk. Only 26% of women > or =65 years of age reported being well informed about stroke, even though this group carries the highest incidence of stroke. Overall, 20% of women stated that they worried a lot about stroke. Among women aged 25 to 34 years, 37% stated that they were not at all informed about stroke, which was significantly higher than for women between 45 and 64 years (13%, P<0.05) and those > or =65 years of age (14%, P<0.05). More Hispanics reported being not at all informed about stroke compared with whites (32% versus 19%, P<0.05) and blacks (32% versus 20%, P<0.05). More white women were aware that at the onset of a stroke, treatment could be given to break up blood clots compared with blacks (92% versus 84%, P<0.05) and Hispanics (92% versus 79%, P<0.05). Correct identification of the warning signs of stroke was low among all racial/ethnic and age groups. More white respondents correctly identified sudden 1-sided weakness or numbness of the face or a limb as a warning sign compared with Hispanics (39% versus 29%, P<0.05). Whites identified difficulty talking or understanding speech as a sign of stroke significantly more often than did Hispanics (29% versus 17%, P<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Results of this national survey document that awareness and knowledge about stroke is suboptimal among women, especially among racial/ethnic minorities, who are at highest risk. These data support the need for targeted educational programs about stroke risk and symptoms and underscore the importance of public health programs to improve awareness of stroke among women.

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