African-Americans Less Likely to Call Emergency Services During Signs of Stroke
New research conducted by the Washington Hospital Center Stroke Center shows that while 89 percent of African-Americans claimed they would call 9-1-1 if confronted with stroke symptoms, less than 12 percent of actual stroke victims actually did. 253 people were surveyed with a list of hypothetical symptoms and asked if they would call 9-1-1 when experiencing them. The list matched the most common stroke symptoms. Despite the high rate of patients claiming they would call emergency services immediately, most actual African-American stroke victims called a friend or family member first.
People in the midst of a stroke can prevent brain and heart damage by arriving at the hospital as promptly as possible. A 9-1-1 call for an ambulance is usually the fastest way to get to a local hospital, where doctors can give the stroke victim clot dissolving drugs that prevent permanent health damage. The survey respondents were chosen at random from the African-American population around Washington D.C. And represents a broad cross section of people from different income and education levels.
African-Americans remain at a higher risk for stroke and are more likely to die of health complications during an episode. This is due to the higher rates of obesity and high blood pressure. 100 stroke patients were chosen to compare to the reported actions, and half of them delayed treatment because they believed the symptoms would subside on their own. Even among those who knew they were having a stroke and went to the hospital promptly, only 50 percent arrived in an ambulance and 35 percent of them only did so because they had no other transportation.
Stroke symptoms don’t cause most patients to lose control over their bodies, so many assume nothing serious is happening and simply rest instead of heading to the emergency room. Every minute of a stroke kills more brain cells and puts the patient at higher risk for fatal heart complications.