According to a study published in this week’s JAMA, researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have found that even though effective stroke treatments are currently available, the number of stroke victims transported via ambulance has not changed since the mid-1990s.

This finding underlines the need for further education regarding the importance of early intervention and stroke symptoms.

The study, which evaluated data gathered between 1997 and 2008, by the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), was led by Dr. Hooman Kamel, a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell and assistant professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medical Collage.

Dr. Kamel, explained:

“People do not always recognize the seriousness of stroke symptoms, or instead of calling 911, they may call their primary care physician for an appointment and lose valuable time as the damage becomes irreversible.”

Based on 1,605 cases, only 51% of adults in the U.S. diagnosed with stroke in emergency departments arrived via ambulance, according to results of the study. In addition, the researchers found that over the 11 year span there was no considerable change.

According to Dr. Kamel individuals can recover if they receive early treatment.

“We have drugs and surgeries that can minimize brain damage from a stroke, but they can be used only within a few short hours. When stroke victims or bystanders quickly recognize the symptoms of a stroke and call 911, patients are more likely to arrive in time to receive these treatments.”

Co-authors of the study are Dr. Babak Navi, director of the Weill Cornell Stroke Center and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Jahan Fahimi, an emergency physician and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that if you experience any of these symptoms you should call 911:

  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, leg or arm, particularly on one side of the body
  • Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or having trouble walking
  • Sudden difficultly speaking or understanding, or confusion

Written by Grace Rattue