The first few hours after stroke symptoms surface are crucial to getting life-saving treatment, which makes this new finding all the more concerning: Only a third of people under 45 say they’d be very likely to go to the hospital if they were experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, according to a national survey from UCLA researchers coming out Monday.

“The natural tendency is to be positive and have wishful thinking that any concerning symptoms of stroke would diminish or abate without treatment,” lead researcher Dr. David Liebeskind said.

Almost three-quarters of people said they’d wait it out to see if symptoms — like numbness, weakness, and trouble speaking or seeing — improved.

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That’s particularly troubling, the researchers say, given that the number of young adults hospitalized for strokes has risen in the United States over the past two decades.

“A younger person is more inclined to think that perhaps symptoms that they do recognize as possible stroke warning signs may be more likely due to something else,” Liebeskind added.

There are about 800,000 strokes in the US each year, among patients of all ages. 

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