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Black Stroke Victims Wait Longer for ER Help: Study

CHICAGO -- African Americans who had a stroke waited longer to be seen in hospital emergency rooms than whites, according to a national study released Wednesday.

Black stroke victims had a median wait time of 10 to 45 minutes, while whites waited 4 to 36 minutes, according to the American Stroke Association study, which was presented at a conference in San Diego. Hispanics had a median wait of 3 to 51 minutes, the researchers found.

Older people and patients who didn't arrive by ambulance also waited longer for care, according to the study, based on a sampling of 480 stroke patients included in a federal hospital database.

The sooner a stroke victim gets treatment, the better the chance to recover.

Minorities might wait longer in the ER because they are more likely to go to crowded urban hospitals that lack adequate resources, said Dr. Michael Schneck, associate director of the stroke center at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Schneck said the study also highlights the need for African Americans to know the risk factors and symptoms of stroke so they can get to a hospital quickly.

"The difference between 10 minutes and 15 minutes may seem trivial, but the sooner you get there and the more fuss you make, the sooner you're going to get evaluated," said Schneck, who was not involved in the research.

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