Blacks Suffering a Stroke Are More Likely to Call a Friend Than 911, Study Finds

Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2011


The study was published this week in the journal Stroke.

Researchers surveyed 253 volunteers in one urban community and asked them what they would do if they had a stroke. Eighty nine percent of respondents said they would first call 911.

But when the team interviewed 100 actual stroke patients (or their proxies) and asked what they did when their strokes occurred, only 12% reported calling 911 first. Most–75%–initially reacted to their symptoms by calling a friend or family member.

Many of these said they didn’t think their symptoms were serious or significant enough to warrant a call to 911, the researchers found. Some patients said they delayed calling for help because they didn’t think medical intervention could benefit them.


{snip} If a patient arrives at the hospital too late, he or she cannot receive treatments such as the medication tPA, which helps break up a blood clot, mitigating the long-term effects of the stroke.

In fact, blacks do receive tPA less often than whites do, study coauthors said.


[“Understanding Reasons for Delay in Seeking Acute Stroke Care in an Underserved Urban Population,” by Amie W. Hsia et al. can be downloaded as a PDF file here. The abstract is available on-line here.]


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  • Anonymous

    To be fair, strokes (or brain attacks) are extremely difficult to diagnose. The first signs could be as trivial as fatigue, headache or nausea which in the big scheme of things look to be everyday occurrences for minor ailments such as over-exertion or food poisoning. Even a CT scan sometimes fails to detect a white or ischemic stroke until visible signs of an infarction becomes apparent.

  • Tim Mc Hugh

    My better half AND I! has been living with stroke effects for sixteen years. Her symptoms also were misidentified while people wondered and waited and called each other. No, I wasn`t in the picture at the time so I don`t have any remorse or guilt.

    But lots of people call me when their loved one suffers one also. They want to know from an expert how the handi-capped controlled cars work etc. One major question I get asked is, “Which is worse? The physical disabilities that keeps them from walking or the communication problems arising from the verbal dyslexia etc.?” I answer by asking them, “Do you love your mother enough to push her around the mall in a wheelchair for forty-five minutes cause she can`t walk?” They seem almost insulted by the question… So then I ask, “How about pushing her around the mall for NINE HOURS and forty -five minutes cause she can`t tell you correctly what it is she is trying to accomplish?!?”

    Actually I`m in tall cotton. We just got her license renewed for another six years. The lady at the DMV can do numbers on the vision test for those that have visual dyslexia. But my girl blurted out the wrong numbers as usual and failed. Then, I looked down at her cheat sheet to help verbalize and laughed with joy. “She said six but she WROTE four!! It`s a four! It`s a four!!” DMV lady passed her no more questions asked.

    Another time she had to give a telephone statement to her insurance about a minor accident. So I quizzed her for an hour to get a gist of what happened. Then I got on the phone with the lady. She chastised me severely saying that this was a legal court case and that she needed to talk to her alone! When the lady asked her to describe the weather conditions the day of the accident, she blurted out “Pomegranite!! Pomegranite!” The lady told her, “Put Tim back on the line…” I told insurance lady that I was just trying to plow her a field.

  • Anonymous

    As a (white) stroke survivor, I can actually understand this. It is instinct. Unfortunately in the case of a stroke, African Americans often tend to follow their instinct, whereas those of us with more trained reasoning powers are likely to try and figure out what is happening and summon the proper assistance.

    (I called an ambulance first, THEN called my adult daughter to meet me at the hospital.)

  • sbuffalonative

    I work with a black woman. She has asthma. She has gone to the emergency room twice since I’ve been there. Oh, and she smokes.

    And because of ObamaCare, you and I are going to be paying for her health care.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    We just got her license renewed for another six years. The lady at the DMV can do numbers on the vision test for those that have visual dyslexia. But my girl blurted out the wrong numbers as usual and failed. Then, I looked down at her cheat sheet to help verbalize and laughed with joy. “She said six but she WROTE four!! It`s a four! It`s a four!!” DMV lady passed her no more questions asked.

    Tim, with all due respect.

    How could she read street and freeway signs if everything is numbered? A large part of driving is being able to distinguish road signs, including numbers, one from another. There is a good reason she flunked the visual test and shouldn’t be driving.

    There are a lot of innocent people on the road (like me, my family and loved ones) who are already at the mercy of drunk drivers, elderly drivers who have no business behind the wheel of a car, teenagers who think the roadways are drag strips, Mexicans without licenses, insurance or registration, rickety, broken down Mexican trucks spewing vast amounts of pollution into the air — and far too few cops. I pass wrecks every single day on the LA freeways and am thankful it is not me.

    My brother has two detached retinas and has lost most of his vision, he knew he was a danger to himself and others even though he “passed” the driving test! He runs a business that is contingent upon him driving all over LA to meet his clients. He decided not to drive and now must pay someone else to drive him around town, possibly permanently, unless the latest in a long line of surgeries “takes.” Depressing? Immeasurably so — but better than causing an accident that may take his life or that of another.

    Maybe your girl shouldn’t be driving if she suffers from visual dyslexia.


  • White Nurse

    Many people die of strokes because they don’t call 911. This applies to all races.

    Usually what happens is that the deceased does not feel well. So he or she lies down thinking it is just a bit of flu coming down or that they are just tired. Then they die.

    Dead stroke victims are usually found on the couch or bed.

    The worst death rate if for men age 40 to 60 who don’t realize they have heart problems. They don’t get checkup or even take their blood pressure in those drugstore machines. They think they are as healthy as they were at 25.

    One evening they come home from work tired. They skip dinner, get in bed and when the wife or roomate checks on them a ouple hours later they are dead. If they live alone they are not found for a few days.

    Get checkups regularly once you reach 40, men and women both. If you don’t have insurance and can’t face the county hospital system, go to one of those urgent care walk in clinics. For about $100.00 you can a get a superficial checkup that will alert you to blood pressure and heart problems.

    Many of the big chain drugstores now have little medical offices on site. They are staffed by nurses who will do a BP check for as little as $30.00

    I think that blacks have a group have excellent medical insurance. They work for government. Unlike private employ, government employ has insurace for all employees. Those who are not in alternative to welfare government jobs are on the various forms of government medical care, either medi-care, medicaid or the vairous city and county free clinics and hospitals.

    Whatever your race, at least start checking your BP when you reach 40.

  • Anonymous

    What’s this, a plea for more government jobs baby sitting the disfunctional fools who can do nothing for themselves?

    I can see it now, an entire agency staffed by non White immigrants conducting seminars to blacks telling them to call 911 when they feel intense pain in their chests.

  • Anonymous

    The signs and symptoms of just about every disease are nausea, malaise, fatigue, aches and pains, head aches, lack of appetite and other very mild problems.

    Could be an uncoming stroke, could be a hangover, could be lack of sleep, could be the flu.