Kids Can Be Key to Emergency Stroke Care

Educating them on the warning signs could save lives, researchers say

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THURSDAY, Feb. 16, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Stroke can happen anytime, anywhere, and a new study finds that even children can be educated to spot stroke's warning signs in others -- and call for emergency help.

The success of a Texas pilot program suggests educating kids can increase the number of stroke patients who make it to lifesaving care in time.

Reporting Thursday at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in Kissimmee, Fla., researchers found that teaching 149 students at three middle schools in Corpus Christi, Texas, about stroke significantly increased their awareness about stroke, their recognition of stroke symptoms, and the likelihood that they'd call 9-1-1 if they believe someone is having a stroke.

That's important, because the most effective therapies for stroke must be given within the first hours of stroke onset.

The researchers also hope that children who are better informed about stroke will share their knowledge with their parents and encourage them to call 9-1-1 if they suspect someone is having a stroke.

"We've learned that people will call 9-1-1 when they are confident they have recognized stroke symptoms. However, if they are unsure the patient is having a stroke, they won't call 9-1-1 due to fear of embarrassment or incurring negative consequences from activating EMS (emergency medial services) if it isn't a stroke," lead researcher Kate Maddox, a nurse practitioner in the stroke program at the University of Michigan, said in a prepared statement.

"We need to teach people that they don't have to diagnose stroke themselves and they won't get in trouble if they call 9-1-1 and it turns out to not be a stroke," she said.

Warning signs of stroke include dizziness, sudden weakness on one side of the body, and headache.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke symptoms.

SOURCE: American Stroke Association, news release, Feb. 16, 2006

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