A stroke necessitates emergency medical attention but a study has shown that whether or not a patient calls 9-1-1 will depend on their race and sex.

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the study reports that over half of patients use Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to get to the hospital during a stroke, with white women as the likeliest to call 9-1-1 and Hispanic men the least likely. Researchers gathered medical information from almost 400,000 patients from October 2011 to March 2014 across over 1,600 hospitals part of Get With The Guidelines-Stroke, a quality initiative program aiming to improve treatment for strokes.

Based on the results of the study, 50 percent of patients who suffer strokes are women, 69 percent of which are white with an average age of 71 years old. Most of these patients were also diagnosed with the most common stroke type which is brought about by a blockage in a blood vessel.

Heidi Mochari-Greenberger, the lead author for the study, explained that their findings are important because the time between treatment and the onset of stroke symptoms greatly affects the level of stroke-related disability that patients will develop.

"The use of emergency medical service transport is associated with shorter hospital arrival times," she added.

It is imperative that a stroke patient receives fast treatment so that blood flow to the brain can be restored quickly and avoid tissue damage and keep disability to a minimum. This is why experts recommend that patients or anyone witnessing a stroke should call 9-1-1 immediately to ensure swift transport.

The researchers also discovered findings that confirm earlier researches, reporting that patinets will highly recognizable symptoms, like altered consciousness, speech difficulty and weakness, were likelier to rely on EMS than those with milder symptoms. They said that this highlights the need for health care providers to provide patients and their families with ample information about the warning signs of stroke and the merits of calling 9-1-1.

Signs of a stroke include face drooping (Is the face numb? Can the person smile?), arm weakness (Can the person lift both arms?) and speech difficulty (Is speech slurred? Can the person repeat a simple sentence?).

The study was supported by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
Other authors for the study include: Eric Smith, Lee Schwamm, Mathew Reeves, Jeffrey Saver, Gregg Fonarow, Deepak Bhatt, Phillip Schulte, Anne Helkamp and Ying Xian.

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