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Neuroscience For Kids

Healthline for Stroke Advice?
phone July 12, 2007

Many hospitals have "healthline operators" that people can call to get medical advice. Healthline operators often provide the first directions to patients and their families during an emergency.

braina One medical emergency is a stroke ("brain attack"). A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is stopped. If this happens for enough time, neurons will start to die because they will not get enough oxygen. Paralysis or aphasia (loss of speech) are possible consequences of a stroke. Unfortunately, researchers at West Virginia University have found that 22% of healthline operators would tell a person describing classic stroke symptoms to call a doctor's office and NOT to call 9-1-1. Moreover, 24% of the operators could not name one sign or symptom of a stroke!

attack It is critical that healthline operators are familiar with the signs and symptoms of a stroke so that people can seek immediate medical assistance. Any delay in treatment to a person experiencing a stroke increases the risk of brain damage and injury. For example, in patients with a stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel, certain drugs must be given within a few hours after symptoms start in order to be effective.

Learn about stroke:

References and more information:

  1. Jarrell, B., Tadros, A., Whiteman, C., Crocco, T. and Davis SM. National Healthline Responses to a Stroke Scenario. Implications for Early Intervention, Stroke, July 5, 2007; [Epub ahead of print]

Copyright © 1996-2007, Eric H. Chudler, University of Washington