|Vol. 20, No. 18||October 1, 1998|
Delays Block Women's Access to Stroke Treatment
by SANDRA HENRY
The University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center
Female stroke victims are getting to the hospital and being evaluated more slowly than male stroke victims, making them less likely to receive available treatment, according to a study published in the August issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
"One reason for the delays of female stroke patients may be that stroke is thought of as a male disease, so people don't recognize women's symptoms as signs of stroke," says Dr. Lewis Morgenstern, study author and assistant professor of neurology at The University of Texas-Houston Medical School. "In Texas, women make up 61 percent of all stroke deaths. In this study, 5.5 percent of men and 12 percent of women died from their strokes.
"Everyone from doctors to family and friends needs to realize that women are at great risk for this disease, and we need to get them to the hospital faster and to see them faster once they arrive," he says.
Reducing delays is crucial to treatment. The only treatment for acute stroke must be given within three hours after the first stroke symptoms. According to Dr. Morgenstern, the number one reason people don't get treated for stroke is that they don't seek and receive treatment within that window of opportunity.
The study showed that patients who come to the hospital in an ambulance arrive and are evaluated 55 percent faster than those who use a private car.
Women take 46 percent longer to get to the hospital after a stroke than men, according to the study of 241 stroke patients admitted to Hermann Hospital. Once there, it took 49 percent longer on average for women to see a doctor.
"Brain damage begins with the first symptom and progresses during a stroke. The faster stroke patients get to the hospital and the faster they are seen by the physician, the more likely they are to survive and recover," Dr. Morgenstern says. "People need to call 911 at the first symptom of stroke."
Stroke symptoms are subtle, often painless, and may last only a few minutes. Warning signs for stroke include the sudden onset of the following:
Factors such as age, gender and race predispose some individuals to stroke. But many high risk stroke factors are modifiable, including:
©2006 Texas Medical Center