Association between sociodemographic determinants and disparities in stroke symptom awareness among US young adults

Document Type



Cardiology; Office of the Provost


Background and purpose: Despite declining stroke rates in the general population, stroke incidence and hospitalizations are rising among younger individuals. Awareness of and prompt response to stroke symptoms are crucial components of a timely diagnosis and disease management. We assessed awareness of stroke symptoms and response to a perceived stroke among young adults in the United States.
Methods: Using data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey, we assessed awareness of 5 common stroke symptoms and the knowledge of planned response (ie, calling emergency medical services) among young adults (<45 >years) across diverse sociodemographic groups. Common stroke symptoms included: (1) numbness of face/arm/leg, (2) confusion/trouble speaking, (3) difficulty walking/dizziness/loss of balance, (4) trouble seeing in one/both eyes, and (5) severe headache.
Results: Our study population included 24 769 adults, of which 9844 (39.7%) were young adults who were included in our primary analysis, and represented 107.2 million US young adults (mean age 31.3 [±7.5] years, 50.6% women, and 62.2% non-Hispanic White). Overall, 2718 young adults (28.9%) were not aware of all 5 stroke symptoms, whereas 242 individuals (2.7%; representing 2.9 million young adults in the United States) were not aware of a single symptom. After adjusting for confounders, Hispanic ethnicity (odds ratio, 1.96 [95% CI, 1.17-3.28]), non-US born immigration status (odds ratio, 2.02 [95% CI, 1.31-3.11]), and lower education level (odds ratio, 2.77 [95% CI, 1.76-4.35]), were significantly associated with lack of symptom awareness. Individuals with 5 high-risk characteristics (non-White, non-US born, low income, uninsured, and high school educated or lower) had nearly a 4-fold higher odds of not being aware of all symptoms (odds ratio, 3.70 [95% CI, 2.43-5.62]).
Conclusions: Based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, a large proportion of young adults may not be aware of stroke symptoms. Certain sociodemographic subgroups with decreased awareness may benefit from focused public health interventions.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

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