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Prev Chronic Dis. 2005 Apr;2(2):A14. Epub 2005 Mar 15.

Rural community knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors.

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  • 1Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Helena, MT 59620-2951, USA.



Rapid identification and treatment of ischemic stroke can lead to improved patient outcomes. Public education campaigns in selected communities have helped to increase knowledge about stroke, but most data represent large metropolitan centers working with academic institutions. Much less is known about knowledge of stroke among residents in rural communities.


In 2004, 800 adults aged 45 years and older from two Montana counties participated in a telephone survey using unaided questions to assess awareness of stroke warning signs and risk factors. The survey also asked respondents if they had a history of atrial fibrillation, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, heart disease, or stroke.


More than 70% of survey participants were able to correctly report two or more warning signs for stroke: numbness on any side of the face/body (45%) and speech difficulties (38%) were reported most frequently. More than 45% were able to correctly report two or more stroke risk factors: smoking (50%) and high blood pressure (44%) were reported most frequently. Respondents aged 45 to 64 years (odds ratio [OR] 2.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.78-3.46), women (OR 2.02; 95% CI, 1.46-2.80), those with 12 or more years of education (OR 1.96; 95% CI, 1.08-3.56), and those with high cholesterol (OR 1.68; 95% CI, 1.17-2.42) were more likely to correctly identify two or more warning signs compared with respondents without these characteristics. Women (OR 1.48; 95% CI, 1.07-2.05) and respondents aged 45 to 64 years (OR 1.35; 95% CI, 1.01-1.81) were also more likely to correctly identify two or more stroke risk factors compared with men and older respondents.


Residents of two rural counties were generally aware of stroke warning signs, but their knowledge of stroke risk factors was limited.

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