Heart attack & stroke symptoms are often unknown

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Many Europeans are unaware of the symptoms of a stroke or heart attack

In the event of a heart attack or stroke, fast, correct action often determines the life and death of the patient. However, many people cannot even recognize the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke, according to the result of a representative survey by the Max Planck Institute for Educational Research in cooperation with the Society for Consumer Research (GfK).

In nine European countries, the researchers determined what knowledge the population has about the symptoms and necessary measures for a heart attack or stroke. The result is sobering: "Many Europeans know surprisingly few signs of heart attack and stroke," reports the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in a recent press release. In addition to the Austrians, the Germans did best in recognizing the symptoms, but there was a lack of knowledge about the necessary immediate measures. "Only one in three Germans would call an ambulance in an emergency - this puts them at the bottom in a European comparison," said the Max Planck Institute. Here health becomes an educational problem.

One in five does not know a single stroke symptom According to the researchers, heart attacks and strokes are "one of the most common causes of death worldwide" and in an emergency, particularly quick action is required. However, those who do not recognize the warnings cannot react appropriately. This affects, for example, the eight percent of the population who could not name a single heart attack symptom in the current survey or the almost 20 percent who did not know a stroke symptom. With the typical symptoms of a heart attack, however, a little more than half of Europeans would recognize chest pain as a clear warning. The researchers determined what symptom knowledge was available in the population by asking "a total of 10,228 people from Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Russia and Poland" to list typical symptoms of a heart attack or stroke to select.

Only a third of Germans would call an ambulance The Germans recognized an average of 3.2 out of six symptoms of heart attack symptoms, "while Italians, Poles, Spaniards and Russians recognized fewer than two symptoms," reports the Max Planck Institute. But what use is this knowledge if afterwards it is not clear to many what they should do. For example, only 33 percent of the Germans surveyed stated that they would call an ambulance immediately if they suspected a stroke. A measure that, according to the researchers, should normally be taken immediately, since it "guarantees the patient the best treatment the fastest." In contrast to the Germans, two thirds of the Poles and Russians and half of the other Europeans knew what to do is. The steps that many Germans and Austrians would take instead of the necessary measures are strange and equally questionable. According to the Max Planck Institute, "28 percent of Germans and 30 percent of Austrians recommended that those affected have a tea or a sip of water, or go to bed and simply wait and see." A recommendation that can have fatal consequences in the worst case could.

More health literacy required Study director Jutta Mata from the Max Planck Institute for Educational Research spoke of a surprising "discrepancy between symptom and action knowledge" - especially in Germany. Furthermore, the managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Educational Research, Gerd Gigerenzer, was amazed that "even people with high blood pressure or overweight who have an increased risk of heart attack or stroke are only slightly better informed" than he Average of the population. It is also remarkable that "those who visit their doctor regularly do not know better in any country what to do if they have symptoms of a stroke - except in Great Britain," Gigerenzer continued. There is a lot of discussion here about more money and better technology in the health care system, "but what we need most are more people with health skills and doctors who have the time to inform their patients," the expert concluded. (fp)

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