New study looks into why strokes may be deadlier for Asian Americans

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In the largest study of its kind, researcher Dr. Sarah Song found Asian American patients experienced more severe symptoms than their Caucasian counterparts. (KABC)

Annie Phillips, 43, adores her cats, her rabbits and her terrier mix, Boo. But three years ago, when she woke up and saw her daughter with Boo, she didn't recognize him.

"The dog was there with her, and I said, 'What is that?'" Phillips said. "She said, 'that's our dog, Boo.'"

Despite disorientation and fatigue, she drove her daughter to school. When her husband found out, he called the paramedics. Philipps' diagnosis was a stroke, and she is still recovering.

"I had to retrain myself to use the left side better," Phillips said.

In the largest study of its kind, an analysis of Asian stroke patients was presented at the American Stroke Association. Researcher Dr. Sarah Song found Asian American patients experienced more severe symptoms than their Caucasian counterparts.

"Asian stroke patients presented with more severe syndromes, meaning that their strokes were a lot worse than white patients," Song said. "They also had a higher rate of in-hospital mortality."

Song also found Asian patients were less likely to get the stroke-busting drug, TPA, and more likely to be diabetic and have higher levels of bad cholesterol.

Phillips is young with no known risk factors, but she displayed all the symptoms - facial droopiness, weakness on one side, slurred speech - but even with all that she chose to ignore the signs.

"It's really important that Asian Americans know that they need to call 911 to get to the hospital faster," Song said.

She believes cultural factors may be in play.

"More awareness is definitely necessary in the Asian community," Song said. "And I believe only by using cultural tailoring within the community will people know that stroke is a treatable and preventable disease."

Phillips agrees.

"My biggest message is to please know your symptoms no matter what age," Phillips said.

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