Medical Attention Seeking After Transient Ischemic Attack and Minor Stroke Before and After the UK Face, Arm, Speech, Time (FAST) Public Education Campaign: Results From the Oxford Vascular Study.
Wolters FJ., Li L., Gutnikov SA., Mehta Z., Rothwell PM.
Importance: Risk of major stroke is high during the hours and days after transient ischemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke but is substantially reduced by urgent medical treatment. Public education campaigns have improved the response after major stroke, but their association with behavior after TIA and minor stroke is uncertain. The number of potentially preventable early recurrent strokes in patients who delay or fail to seek medical attention is unknown. Objective: To investigate the association of public education with delays and failure in seeking medical attention after TIA and minor stroke. Design, Setting, and Participants: Prospective population-based study of all patients with TIA or stroke who sought medical attention between April 1, 2002, and March 31, 2014, registered at 9 general practices in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. Data analysis took place from July 1, 2013, to March 2, 2015. Exposures: Face, Arm, Speech, Time (FAST) public education campaign in the United Kingdom. Main Outcomes and Measures: Number of early recurrent strokes in patients who delayed or failed to seek medical attention, as well as the odds of seeking urgent attention after TIA and minor stroke before vs after initiation of the public education campaign. Results: Among 2243 consecutive patients with first TIA or stroke (mean [SD] age, 73.6 [13.4] years; 1126 [50.2%] female; 96.3% of white race/ethnicity), 1656 (73.8%) had a minor stroke or TIA. After the FAST campaign, patients with major stroke more often sought medical attention within 3 hours (odds ratio [OR], 2.56; 95% CI, 1.11-5.90; P = .03). For TIA and minor stroke, there was no improvement in use of emergency medical services (OR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.50-1.23; P for interaction = .03 vs major stroke) or time to first seeking medical attention within 24 hours (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.48-1.19; P for interaction = .006 vs major stroke). Patient perception of symptoms after TIA and minor stroke was associated with more urgent behavior, but correct perception declined after the FAST campaign (from 37.3% [289 of 774] to 27.6% [178 of 645]; OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.51-0.80; P < .001). One hundred eighty-eight patients had a stroke within 90 days of their initial TIA or stroke, of whom 93 (49.5%) followed unheeded TIAs for which no medical attention was sought, similar before and after the FAST campaign (43 of 538 [8.0%] before vs 50 of 615 [8.1%] after, P = .93). Conclusions and Relevance: This study suggests that in contrast to major stroke, extensive FAST-based public education has not improved the response to TIA and minor stroke in the United Kingdom, emphasizing the need for campaigns that are tailored to transient and less severe symptoms.