Within days of U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's stroke, Edward Hospital in Naperville said Internet traffic to its stroke awareness test jumped by hundreds.
"We know around the water cooler here it was a huge topic of conversation," said Brian Davis, vice president of marketing at Edwards. "When something like this comes up, we want to get people information as soon as we can."
Edward Hospital sent "tens of thousands" of emails to its customers with a link to the hospital's stroke awareness test Tuesday -- one day after Kirk's stroke became public, Davis said.
Within 48 hours, about 1,000 people had taken the test, way above the daily average of about a dozen.
The Edward Hospital emergency room also has seen more patients than usual come in with possible stroke symptoms. But Davis said numbers weren't that different from a busy week.
Some other suburban hospitals said they haven't yet seen an increase in stroke-related concerns since Kirk's stroke, but some representatives thought that increased awareness could come later.
"The public is waking up and seeing strokes happen to younger people than traditionally thought," said Tim Malisch, director of interventional neuroradiology at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village.
Kirk, 52, suffered a stroke over the weekend and had surgery Sunday to temporarily remove a segment of his skull to relieve pressure from swelling in his brain. He underwent additional surgery late Wednesday, also to address swelling.
The emergency room at Sherman Health in Elgin has not seen an increase in people concerned about stroke, said Matthew Stilson, director of the emergency department.
Malisch and other doctors agree Kirk's stroke should educate people to watch out for signs of a stroke and not dismiss symptoms, even if they are relatively young.
"Absolutely, stroke happens to young people and absolutely, it can be treated with a dramatic improvement in function," Malisch said. "It's treatable, but you have to come in quickly."