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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

JAMA Study Finds People with Stroke Symptoms Still Not Calling 911

Study showing ambulance use for fast, effective treatment not increasing; urgent need to recognize stroke symptoms- see videos

March 14, 2012 – Despite the efforts to inform the public of the urgency for rapid treatment for stroke victims and the effective treatments now available, the number of patients using an ambulance for rapid transportation to a treatment center has not changed since the mid-1990s.

In a study published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center say their research highlights the need for even more education about stroke symptoms and the importance of early intervention.


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The study, led by Dr. Hooman Kamel, a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell and assistant professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College, analyzed data collected by the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) between 1997 and 2008.

"People do not always recognize the seriousness of stroke symptoms, or instead of calling 911, they may call their primary care physician for an appointment and lose valuable time as the damage becomes irreversible," says Dr. Kamel.

Videos About Stroke from the National Institutes of Health and

Warning Signs and Risk Factors - opens in new window

"Warning Signs and Risk Factors"

[2 min 9 sec]

Click to watch this video
Transcript, Video help

What Happens During a Stroke - opens in new window

"What Happens During a Stroke"

[2 min 18 sec]

Click to watch this video
Transcript, Video help


Based on 1,605 cases, the study found that just 51 percent of adults diagnosed with stroke in emergency departments nationwide arrived via ambulance, with no significant change over the 11-year span.

Dr. Kamel says recovery is possible with early treatment. "We have drugs and surgeries that can minimize brain damage from a stroke, but they can be used only within a few short hours. When stroke victims or bystanders quickly recognize the symptoms of a stroke and call 911, patients are more likely to arrive in time to receive these treatments."

The study was co-authored by Dr. Babak Navi, director of the Weill Cornell Stroke Center and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Jahan Fahimi, an emergency physician and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

Common Warning Signs of Stroke

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, you should call 911 if you experience any of these symptoms.

   ● Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

   ● Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

   ● Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

   ● Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

   ● Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, reports to be one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. For more information, visit and


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