Introduction: Stroke awareness in Latin America is scant. We conducted a large population survey in 13 provinces in Argentina to assess knowledge of cerebrovascular disease.
Methods: We distributed 110,000 multiple-choice anonymous questionnaires using the house distribution system of a bottled water dispensing company, assessing information regards age, gender, educational level, general stroke information, attitude towards symptoms and treatment. Percentages of each choice were recorded for every question and a multivariate analysis was performed.
Results: A total of 12,710 surveys were returned, age 51±17 years, 69% women. Almost 95% reported prior knowledge of the disease, 50% through public media, 37% through a relative/friend that had a stroke and 8% through their family doctor. The Spanish acronym for accidente cerebrovascular, ACV, was the most frequently identified name for stroke (79%), the Spanish equivalent to cerebral attack was used by 7% and 0,4% used the term “ictus”. Only 29% knew about TIA but 69% identified stroke risk factors. Although 73% recognized their signs and symptoms, 11% misinterpreted them as a heart attack and 34% ignored that stroke can present with severe headache. Although 73% considered the disease potentially disabling/fatal, 40% ignored its frequency. If symptoms, 25% would call 911 and 50% would go to an emergency room by own means. Only 63% knew the existence of a specific treatment. Lowest degree of knowledge was seen in young, single, non-university men.
Conclusion: This study represents the largest general public stroke awareness survey in Spanish speaking populations. Respondents showed excellent recognition of risk factors, warning signs and need of a rapid response. The population had little knowledge of prevalence, severity, TIA, and acute treatment. Public media appear to have an essential role in education.