Many U.S. women don’t know most of the warning signs of stroke , according to research conducted by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and released Wednesday.

In a national phone survey asking 1,205 U.S. women about the signs of stroke, researchers found: Only 18 percent of women identified sudden vision loss;  20 percent identified unexplained dizziness.23 percent identified sudden severe headache; 44 percent identified difficulty speaking or garbled speech; 51 percent identified sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the face, arms or legs.

Hispanic women were less likely than others to know most of the warning signs of a stroke – 25 percent did not know any, compared to 18 percent of whites and 19 percent of blacks, according to the article.

“This lack of recognition of stroke signs and symptoms could be a significant barrier to reducing death and disability related to stroke in the United States,” said Lori Mosca, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., principal investigator of the study. “This is critically important because delays in getting care costs lives and hinders functional recovery.”

Despite not knowing warning signs, 84 percent of the women knew the importance of calling 9-1-1 if they thought they were having a stroke, said researchers.

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death for women and affects more women than men. Overall, it’s the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States and a primary cause of long-term disability among survivors. Stroke risk is greatest among minority racial groups, including blacks and Hispanics, according to the AHA/ASA.

Respondents to the 2012 survey were English-speaking women in the United States, age 25 years or older. More than half were white, 17 percent black, 17 percent Hispanic and 12 percent other races/ethnicities, researchers said.

The associations’ national campaign to increase stroke awareness urges people to spot and respond to stroke with the acronym F.A.S.T.

  • Face drooping.
  • Arm      weakness.
  • Speech difficulty.
  • Time to call 9-1-1.

“It’s so important to recognize a stroke and get quick treatment,” said Mosca, a professor of medicine and director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “Public awareness campaigns such as F.A.S.T., along with education from healthcare providers, can help raise that awareness.”

The research abstract was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2014 Scientific Sessions and published in the American Heart Association journal, Stroke.

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