Calling Doc May Delay Stroke Treatment
Studies Point to Need to Call 911 at First Sign of Stroke
Office Workers Fail to Recognize Stroke Signs
In the second study, U.S. researchers randomly called more than 50 primary
care physicians' offices seeking advice for hypothetical stroke or heart
In all cases, receptionists realized that patients complaining of chest
pain and shortness of breath were having a heart attack and correctly
recommended that the caller dial 911 immediately.
The same didn't hold true for stroke scenarios, where receptionists were
told the victim was having trouble speaking or experiencing weakness in an arm
or leg, says Brett Jarrell, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at
the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
"These are classic signs of stroke. But in about 30% of cases, the
receptionist recommended scheduling an appointment later in the day if symptoms
"This was not the desired answer," he tells WebMD.
Only 45% of Stroke Victims Arrive by Ambulance
Only 45% of patients arrive at the hospital in an ambulance, according to
another study presented at the meeting. And another analysis found that despite
widespread campaigns to raise awareness of stroke symptoms and the need for
prompt treatment, use of emergency services was unchanged from 1993 to
Sacco says, "Don't call me. Don't call your mom. Call 911. It's the
quickest taxi to the ER."
According to ASA, classic stroke warning signs that merit a call to 911
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side
of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination.
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.