A new study from Oxford University reveals that many patients are not aware that they are having a stroke when they are experiencing symptoms.
The study, published in The British Journal of Surgery, included 150 patients with a confirmed transient ischaemic attack or minor stroke who presented to a clinic in England during a five-month period in 2014. Overall 92 (61.3 per cent) of the patients delayed seeking medical help.
88 patients (58.7 per cent) did not think they were having a stroke and 54 (36.0 per cent) were unaware of a public campaign that was launched in the UK in 2009 to raise awareness of stroke symptoms and highlight the importance of urgent medical care. The campaign’s acronym FAST (Face, Arm, Speech, Time) includes the common presenting features of weakness and dysphasia.
Even among those who were aware of the advice, some thought they were having a stroke but still did not seek immediate medical help.
However, a team of researchers at Oxford's Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) and the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences noted nearly one-third of patients presented with eye symptoms and suggested inclusion of eye symptoms and reaffirmation of the need to react might avoid unnecessary delays in care.
Professor Ashok Handa, Director of Surgical Education at NDS and senior author of the study, said: 'FASTER — face, arm, speech, time, eyes, react — may be a better acronym for the public campaign.'
The paper, Delays in the presentation to stroke services of patients with transient ischaemic attack and minor stroke, is published in the British Journal of Surgery (doi:10.1002/bjs.10199).