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Undiagnosed Stroke Symptoms Common, Especially in Blacks

Findings suggest aggressive stroke prophylaxis could be beneficial

MONDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Undiagnosed stroke symptoms are common in the general U.S. population, with a higher prevalence among blacks and those with lower incomes, according to study findings published in the Oct. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Virginia J. Howard, M.S.P.H., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues analyzed data from a randomly sampled national cohort of 18,462 people with no reported history of stroke or transient ischemic attack. The mean age of the cohort was 65.8 years, 51 percent were female and 41 percent were black.

There was a 17.8 percent prevalence of one or more stroke symptoms. For sudden painless hemibody weakness, the prevalence was 5.8 percent, while 8.5 percent experienced sudden hemibody numbness, 4.6 percent sudden painless loss of vision and 3.1 percent sudden hemifield visual loss. Sudden inability to understand speech affected 2.7 percent, and 3.8 percent experienced sudden inability to speak.

Blacks had a higher prevalence of stroke symptoms compared with white participants, and rates were also higher among those with lower income, lower education and fair-to-poor perceived health status.

"Targeted education on the warning signs of stroke and risk factor reduction efforts for individuals who report stroke symptoms may be helpful in improving early recognition and in the prevention of stroke," the authors conclude.

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