What stroke symptoms tell us: Association of risk factors and individual stroke symptoms in the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study

Liyan Gao, James F. Meschia, Suzanne E. Judd, Paul Muntner, Leslie A. McClure, Virginia J. Howard, James D. Rhodes, Mary Cushman, Monika M. Safford, Elsayed Z. Soliman, Dawn O. Kleindorfer, George Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Background: Stroke symptoms are common among people without a history of stroke or transient ischemic attack; however, it is unknown if particular attention should be focused on specific symptoms for subgroups of patients. Methods: Using baseline data from 26,792 REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) participants without a history of transient ischemic attack or stroke, we assessed the association between age, sex, race, current smoking, hypertension, and diabetes and the 6 stroke symptoms in the Questionnaire for Verifying Stroke-Free Status. Results: The mean age of participants was 64.4 ± 9.4 years, 40.7% were black, and 55.2% were women. After multivariable adjustment, older persons more often reported an inability to understand (odds ratio [OR] 1.16 per 10 years older age; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07-1.25) and unilateral vision loss (OR 1.09; 95% CI 1.01-1.18) and less often reported numbness (OR 0.83; 95% CI 0.79-0.87) and weakness (OR 0.85; 95% CI 0.80-0.90). Women reported difficulty communicating more often than men (OR 1.36; 95% CI 1.19-1.56). The OR for blacks compared to whites for each of the 6 stroke symptoms was increased, markedly so for unilateral numbness (OR 1.97; 95% CI 1.81-2.16), unilateral weakness (OR 1.96; 95% CI 1.76-2.18), and inability to understand (OR 1.87; 95% CI 1.61-2.18). Current smoking, hypertension, and diabetes were associated with higher ORs for each stroke symptom. Conclusions: The association of risk factors with 6 individual stroke symptoms studied was not uniform, suggesting the need to emphasize individual stroke symptoms in stroke awareness campaigns when targeting populations defined by risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-416
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012



  • Individual stroke symptoms
  • risk factors
  • stroke symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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