(HealthDay News) — Knowledge of stroke warning signs is low among a nationally representative sample of women, particularly among Hispanics, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2014 Scientific Sessions, held from March 18–21 in San Francisco.

Heidi Mochari-Greenberger, from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues surveyed 1,205 U.S., English-speaking women (>25 years; 54% white, 17% black, 17% Hispanic, 12% other) in 2012 to assess cardiovascular disease awareness and knowledge of warning signs of stroke.

The researchers found that half of all women, regardless of race/ethnic group, identified sudden weakness/numbness of face/limb on one side as a stroke warning sign. Approximately 44% of all women identified loss of/trouble talking/understanding speech as a warning sign, although white women were significantly more likely than Hispanic women to identify this symptom. Less commonly identified warning signs included sudden severe headache (23%), unexplained dizziness (20%), or sudden dizziness/loss of vision (18%). Regardless of race/ethnicity, one in five women reported not knowing a single warning sign. Additionally, the majority of all women (range 79–86% said they would call 911 first if they were experiencing a sign of a stroke.

“These data suggest effort to improve recognition of the warning signs of stroke has potential to reduce treatment delay and improve outcomes among women,” Mochari-Greenberger and colleagues conclude.

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