Most Young Adults Would Delay Medical Attention Upon Stroke Symptoms

A national survey conducted by the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center found that 73% of young adults would likely delay going to the hospital upon onset of stroke symptoms.

“Timely treatment for stroke is probably more important than for almost any other medical problem there is,” David Liebeskind, MD, professor of neurology, Director of Outpatient Stroke and Neurovascular Programs and Director of the Neurovascular Imaging Research Core at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said in a statement. “There is a very limited window in which to start treatment because the brain is very sensitive to a lack of blood flow or to bleeding, and the longer patients wait, the more devastating the consequences.”

The researchers asked 1009 participants across the United States what they would likely do within the first 3 hours of experiencing common symptoms of a stroke: weakness, numbness, difficulty speaking, or difficulty seeing.

CLINICAL CHART: Hypertension Evaluation

Of those 45 or younger, only about 1 out of 3 said they would be very likely to go to the hospital. A huge percentage — 73% — said they would likely wait to see if their symptoms improved.

“That’s a real problem,” said Dr Liebeskind. “We need to educate younger people about the symptoms of stroke and convince them of the urgency of the situation, because the numbers are going up.”

Since the mid-1990’s, the number of U.S. adults between 18 and 45 discharged from hospitals after suffering a stroke has increased approximately 53%. It is estimated that someone has a stroke about every 40 seconds in the United States, reaching about 800 000 new stroke patients each year.

Patients should be warned that even if they are young and don’t fit the typical description of a stroke patient, they are still at risk and should seek immediate medical attention upon experiencing stroke symptoms.

The American Stroke Association encourages physicians to educate patients about stroke symptoms using the easy-to-remember FAST method.

If a patient or someone a patient knows experiences:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness, or
  • Speech difficulty, it’s
  • Time to call 911.

Dr Leibeskind emphasized that it’s down to hours or even minutes to treat stroke in time. “There simply is no time to wait. It’s a message that we clearly need to get to younger people more effectively,” he said.


Survey Finds Most Young People Experiencing The Signs Of A Stroke Would Put Off Going To The E.R. UCLA Health website. Published January 11, 2016. Accessed January 11, 2016.