Nurses are being warned to monitor patients carefully as research shows many people are unaware of the symptoms and the dangers of a stroke.
The Stroke Association found 34% of people would wait a day or more before seeking medical assistance if they thought they had suffered a stroke - but only 12% of people would wait that long to report a stolen bank card.
Research also shows the over-65s are the least likely to seek immediate assistance, despite the fact that 75% of strokes occur in that age group.
Women are also more aware of the dangers than men, as 69% would call 999 immediately on noticing symptoms, compared with 59% of men.
The survey found 45% of people believe £10m is ploughed into stroke studies, but a recent National Audit Office report found charity research funding into strokes stands at just £2.6m a year.
The Stroke Association claims this contrasts with the money put towards coronary heart disease, which gets £43m a year.
Joe Korner, director of communications at The Stroke Association, said: "These results highlight how strokes continue to be misunderstood by the public and are way down on their agenda."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "The Department of Health has invested £20m in a UK Stroke Research Network to support improved research into stroke and ensure that the latest medical advances in stroke treatment can be translated from the bench to the bedside.
"However, we are aware that our approach to research could be improved."