HealthDay News — Knowledge of stroke warning signs is low among a nationally representative sample of women, according to study results presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition Physical Activity and Metabolism 2014 Scientific Sessions.

Slightly more than half of all women, 51%, identified sudden weakness/numbness of face/limb on one side as a stroke warning sign, but fewer than half were able to identify other warning signs, Heidi Mochari-Greenberger, PhD, MD, from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues reported at the meeting.

Overall 44% recognized that difficulty speaking or understanding speech signified a stroke (a smaller proportion of Hispanic compared with white women); 23%, sudden severe headache; 20%, unexplained dizziness; and 18%, sudden loss of at least some vision.

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One in five women reported not knowing a single warning sign. However, the majority of all women (79% to 86%) said they would call 911 first if they were experiencing a sign of a stroke.

The findings were based on a nationally representative survey of 1,205 U.S., English-speaking women aged 25 years and older (54% white, 17% black, 17% Hispanic, 12% other).

“These data suggest effort to improve recognition of the warning signs of stroke has potential to reduce treatment delay and improve outcomes among women,” Mochari-Greenberger and colleagues concluded. “The ability to recognize stroke warning signs at their onset is associated with more rapid access to emergency care, which may result in decreased stroke-related morbidity and mortality.”


  1. Mochari-Greenberger H, et al “National women’s knowledge of stroke warning signs, overall and by race/ethnic group.” Stroke. 2014; 45: 1180-1182.