Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C. interviewed 100 acute stroke patients or those who accompanied them to the hospital and found that 75 percent said they called someone else first instead of 911 when they realized something was wrong. Even more reported they waited a significant amount of time before seeking any medical attention.
Although stroke patients were asked whether concerns about the District’s emergency medical response system was a reason for not calling 911, [Amie Hsia, medical director at the Washington Hospital Stroke Center], said it was not a primary reason people gave. That concern surfaced in later interviews with focus groups, where respondents also spoke of fear that ambulances might not find their way to a particular neighborhood quickly enough, embarrassment if an ambulance showed up and concern about the cost of emergency services, she said.
According to the American Stroke Association someone in the United States is having a stroke every 40 seconds. It is the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
In the United States, the rate of first strokes in African Americans is almost double that of whites, researchers say, because of higher incidences of risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity. And strokes tend to occur earlier in life for African Americans. Studies have also shown that fewer blacks than whites receive a treatment that breaks up the blood clot in the brain causing the stroke, in part because blacks are not getting to the hospital in time.
The Congressional Black Caucus and American Heart Association announced on Thursday they would be joining together in a campaign to inspire people to make healthier choices and to educate people on best practices if they or someone they know is having a stroke.