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J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2013 Oct;22(7):996-1001. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Mar 10.

The relationship between knowledge and risk for heart attack and stroke.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Electronic address:



Stroke and myocardial infarction (MI) represent 2 of the leading causes of death in the United States. The early recognition of risk factors and event symptoms allows for the mitigation of disability or death. We sought to compare subject knowledge of stroke and MI, assess subject risk for cardiovascular disease, and determine if an association exists between knowledge and risk.


In this cross-sectional survey, adult, non-health care professionals were presented with a written knowledge test and risk assessment tool. Subjects were classified into 3 categories of cardiovascular risk. Associations were then calculated between knowledge, risk, and population demographics.


Of 500 subjects approached, 364 were enrolled. The subjects were mostly white, middle-aged, and high school educated. Gender and income were evenly distributed. Forty-eight (14%) subjects were identified as ideal risk, 130 (38%) as low risk, and 168 (49%) as moderate/high risk. MI and stroke knowledge scores decreased as cardiovascular risk increased (85%, 79%, and 73% for ideal, low, and moderate/high risk groups, respectively; P < .001). In addition, regardless of risk category, stroke knowledge scores were always lower than heart attack knowledge scores.


Knowledge about stroke and MI was modest, with knowledge of MI exceeding that of stroke at every level of risk. Subjects with higher risk were less knowledgeable about the stroke signs, symptoms, and risk factors than those of MI.

Copyright © 2013 National Stroke Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Cerebrovascular accident; cerebrovascular disease; heart attack; knowledge; myocardial infarction; risk assessment; stroke

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