Awareness of Stroke Risk Factors and Warning Signs and Attitude to Acute Stroke
Background: Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Knowledge of stroke risk factors and warning signs might improve its prevention and ensure prompt activation of emergency medical services and access to thrombolysis. Educational campaigns have been held in Portugal though its impact on knowledge of medical patients has not been assessed.
Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was performed to medical outpatients, through an interview. Main objectives were to assess the extent of knowledge on risk factors and warning signs and the attitude to stroke and to identify predictive factors of stroke-related knowledge. Two subgroups were studied: hypertensive and elderly.
Results: Two hundred and forty eight patients were randomly selected. Two hundred and nine patients (84,3 %) spontaneously recalled at least one risk factor, most frequently hypertension, dyslipidemia and stress. One hundred and eighty four patients (74,2%) spontaneously named at least one warning sign, most frequently hemiparesis, speech impairment and facial palsy, but few (6,5%) spontaneously recalled the three together. One hundred and sixty nine patients would activate emergency medical service (69,5%). Hypertensive patients revealed a better stroke-related knowledge while no significant difference was found in elderly. Educational level was a predictor of better knowledge. Failure to activate emergency medical service was inversely associated to knowledge of risk factors, but not to warning signs.
Conclusion: Despite reasonable stroke-related knowledge, it is insufficient particularly concerning awareness of three main warning signs and behavior to acute stroke. Further investigation is necessary to identify barriers to activation of emergency medical service.
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