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ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Date:2/18/2009

roke quickly can lead to severe disability, and even loss of life.

The study authors looked at 57 people under the age of 50 who went to a Detroit emergency room with various symptoms. The participants were equally divided in gender, and their median age was 34.

All but one of the patients had had a stroke. But eight patients, or 14 percent of the total, were misdiagnosed by hospital staff.

"Those under the age of 35 were misdiagnosed one-third of the time," Chaturvedi added. And strokes occurring in the back of the brain were more often misdiagnosed, possibly because symptoms were varied.

But such mistakes may be all too easy to make, Greenberg pointed out.

"These [cases] are all unusual, because you don't [often] see stroke in young patients," he said. "The truth is, distinguishing symptoms such as vertigo or inner ear disorders and [stroke] is pretty difficult for anybody."

"One premise in medicine and society that we all ignore a lot is that age doesn't protect you from illness," Greenberg added. "Anybody of any age can get just about anything, [but] the likelihood of this occurring in a young person is way less. The challenge is to be able to identify atypical presentations of a common disease or common presentations of an unusual disease."

A second study to be presented at the conference found that pharmacies don't regularly recommend that callers with stroke symptoms call 9-1-1.

For their findings, researchers at West Virginia University in Morgantown surveyed 71 pharmacies and found that only one out of every five people who answered the store's phones recommended that potential stroke victims call emergency medical services.

Stroke patients who get to the hospital via EMS get there faster and are more likely to get clot-busting treatment, the study authors pointed out.

Stroke experts say that people of all ages should rush to the hospital if they have any of
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