WASHINGTON - Most African-Americans who experience symptoms of a stroke say they call a friend instead of 911, U.S. researchers discovered.
Dr. Chelsea Kidwell, director of the Georgetown University Stroke Center in Washington, said the finding is critical to understanding why many blacks delay getting to a hospital where emergency care such as the medication tPA can be administrated, or blood clots can be broken up, to reduce the effects of stroke and reduce permanent disability.
The drug tPA must be given to the patient within the first few hours of the stroke symptoms, so any delay can mean the difference between serious side effects and full recovery, Kidwell said.
"Previous studies have shown that fewer blacks receive tPA than whites, and one reason is that they're not getting to a hospital in time," Kidwell said in a statement.
The researchers questioned 253 community volunteers in the service areas of a large urban community hospital in the Washington area, and 100 interviews were conducted in the same hospital with acute stroke patients, or their proxies.
The study, published online in the journal Stroke, found 89 percent of the volunteers -- a predominantly urban, black population -- reported that if faced with a hypothetical stroke, they would call 911 first, but 75 percent of those actually hospitalized for a stroke called a friend or family member first.