Healthcare Tips

African-Americans With Stroke Call Friends Or Relatives, Not Emergency Services

July 10, 2017

Most African-Americans say they would call 911 if they experienced stroke symptoms, but in reality only 12% do, the rest call a relative or friend first, researchers from the Washington Hospital Center Stroke Center reported in Stroke. While 89% said they would call 911, only 12% did when one really happened. The authors argue that this illogical failure to act swiftly undermines the patient's chances of receiving prompt acute therapy and increases their risk of death.

The Congressional Black Caucus and the American Heart Association are discussing how to reduce stroke morbidity in African-Americans. African-Americans have a greater risk of stroke than Caucasians, and have a higher risk of death from stroke anyway - so, getting immediate treatment as soon as symptoms appear is crucial.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of African-Americans in underserved communities do not know that treatment is available, and that getting to hospital as fast as possible is vital when stroke symptoms appear.

A survey carried out by the American Heart Association revealed that approximately 43% of African-Americans aged between 18 and 24 were not concerned at all about cardiovascular conditions or diseases.

Only about one quarter of young African-American adults have any interest in cholesterol levels, hypertension or obesity. Seventy-percent do not know that race/ethnicity impacts on heart disease and stroke risk. African-Americans are twice as likely to suffer a stroke as Caucasian people are.

The authors added that a very small minority of young African-Americans have healthy behaviors.

Whitfield wrote:

"Most young people believe they don't need to worry about stroke even when they have risk factors for the disease or are at risk for developing those risk factors. The surveys drive home why it is important for African-Americans of all ages to seek emergency care when they're experiencing the symptoms of a stroke and to take steps to learn whether they are at risk for stroke. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act gives consumers new assistance for knowing their risk and taking steps to reduce it by making preventive screenings and services more available and affordable."

31 Days of Power is being launched by the Congressional Black Caucus and the American Heart Association. This is American Stroke Month. Plans are underway for events all over the country aimed at making African-Americans more aware of the dangers of stroke, what factors increase the risk, available treatment options, and how to identify the signs and symptoms of stroke.

Campaigners say African-Americans need to be better prepared so that they know what to do, and have a better chance of treating and controlling their conditions after a stroke.

Certain lifestyle choices can significantly reduce your chances of having a stroke, they include: Not smoking Consuming alcohol in moderation Doing exercise Losing weight Getting at least 7 hours good quality sleep every night If you have hypertension, getting proper treatment and keeping it under control If you have diabetes, getting proper treatment and keeping it under control Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet The authors revealed that only one quarter of the people interviewed thought an ambulance would be faster. Ambulances are much faster and they can communicate with hospital staff on their way so that everyone is ready for the patient when he/she arrives. Arriving by car slows things down a lot.

The American Heart Association says it intends to improve cardiovascular health across America by 20% by the end of this decade, as well as reducing stroke and cardiovascular disease rates by 20%.

Stroke is the country's main cause of disability and its third largest killer. Every forty seconds, on average, an American has a stroke. 137,000 people die from stroke annually.

The authors wrote in conclusion in Stroke:

" In this predominantly black urban population, although 89% of community volunteers report the intent of calling 911 during a stroke, only 12% of actual patients with stroke did so. Further research is needed to determine and conquer the barriers between behavioral intent and actual behavior to call 911 for witnessed stroke."

"Understanding Reasons for Delay in Seeking Acute Stroke Care in an Underserved Urban Population"
Amie W. Hsia, MD; Amanda Castle, BA; Jeffrey J. Wing, MPH; Dorothy F. Edwards, PhD; Nina C. Brown, MPH; Tara M. Higgins, BA; Jasmine L. Wallace, MPH; Sara S. Koslosky, MPH; M. Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH; Brisa N. Sánchez, PhD; Ali Fokar, MPH; Nawar Shara, PhD; Lewis B. Morgenstern, MD; Chelsea S. Kidwell, MD
Stroke May 5, 2011, doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.604736