Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Black stroke victims reluctant to call 911

New research: Most African-American stroke victims call a friend before 911 when they start to have symptoms.

That’s the troubling finding of a new report in the journal Stroke. The researchers found that while nearly 90% of people said they would call 911 at the first sign of a stroke, what stroke victims actually did was quite different.

Seventy-five percent of patients who had a stroke said once they realized something was wrong, they called a friend or family member first. And 89% said they had a significant delay before they sought medical treatment. About half of the respondents said they delayed treatment because they thought the symptoms either weren’t serious or that they’d go away on their own.

Some of the reasons patients gave for calling a loved one before 911 were fears that an ambulance crew would have trouble finding their neighborhood, worries about the cost, and embarrassment about having an ambulance show up at their door.

The news is particularly troublesome considering that blacks suffer higher rates of strokes, and have them earlier than other populations. The best treatment for strokes depends on getting patients in the doors of the ER quickly.  Every minute’s delay leads to the loss of more brain function.

The researchers said the findings show a need for more targeted educational materials regarding signs and symptoms of a stroke, as well as how to respond when someone else appears to be suffering from a stroke.

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