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DOWNEY -Sarah didn't know what hit her. Suddenly she couldn't speak, and then she realized that she couldn't move her right arm or her right leg. After she was rushed to the hospital, she and her husband learned she had suffered a major stroke. And yet, she could have avoided the stroke if she would have understood the risk factors and warning signs and made a few changes to her lifestyle.
"Eighty percent of strokes are preventable," said RTH Stroke Foundation President Deborah Massaglia. "That's why we have teamed with the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, The Downey Patriot and the Rio Hondo Event Center to launch a major Stroke Prevention Program to help the residents of the Downey area avoid having a first stroke. We are very excited about this powerful community partnership, and we look forward to working together to reduce the incidence of stroke in this great city."
The first Stroke Prevention Seminar in the new program will be held Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Rio Hondo Event Center, located at 10627 Old River School Rd Downey, CA 90241 in Downey. The event will feature free Carotid Artery Screenings as well as stroke education materials.
"This seminar can help put you on the road to better health in just 90 minutes," said RTH Stroke Foundation Executive Director Guy Navarro. "It's one of the best things you can do to improve your life, and it dovetails perfectly with the City of Downey's 'Healthy Downey' initiative."
"This program provides the opportunity for people in the Downey area to change their behaviors before they experience a stroke or other disabling injury," said Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center physician Amytis Towfighi, MD, who is one of the world's top stroke physicians and researchers. "At Rancho, we see three times as many stroke patients as any other diagnosis as the number of strokes continue to outpace other disabling illnesses and injuries," she said.
"We hope our friends in the community will attend this special free seminar so that they can find out how they can prevent a stroke in their own lives and the lives of their loved ones," Dr. Towfighi said. "One wonderful aspect of adopting a lifestyle that will help prevent strokes is that the same behaviors will also help someone avoid heart attacks, diabetes, and many other major illnesses."
To register for the seminar, please call (888) 794-9466 to RSVP. "Seating is limited, so we suggest that those who wish to attend this community education event register as soon as possible," Guy said. The Carotid Artery screenings that will be provided free at this seminar would normally cost between $200 and $500 at a doctor's office. "Of course, if it helps diagnose a serious health issue, the value of this test would be priceless," he added.
The RTH Stroke Foundation was founded by Roxanna Todd Hodges. She suffered three major strokes. Her first was in 1993 and the last one was in 2005. She passed away at her home in Santa Monica in 2011.
"Roxanna's wish was to inform the public on stroke awareness," Deborah said. "If she would have known the warning signs and the risk factors, things may have been very different for her. Her last spoken words were 'Strike Out Stroke,' and at the RTH Stroke Foundation, we are working every day to make those words come true."
"We are committed to healing, training, education and support so that the causes of strokes can be prevented, and so that the often devastating after-effects of a stroke can be mitigated," she said. "We have seen so many stroke patients who didn't have to have a stroke but just didn't know the warning signs. So we are working with the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, The Downey Patriot and Rio Hondo Event Center to help people live healthier lives.
The warning signs of stroke always come suddenly. They include:
* Sudden numbness, weakness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body.
* Sudden loss of speech, or trouble talking or understanding speech
* Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or sudden falls
* Sudden severe headache with no apparent cause, often described as "the worst headache I have ever had."
"If you experience some or all of these warning signs, don't wait...call 9-1-1 immediately," Dr. Towfighi said. "It literally could be a matter of life and death. The sooner you get to the hospital after a stroke, the better your chance of recovery."
"To put stroke into perspective, 795,000 Americans each year have a new or recurrent stroke," Deborah said. "On average, this is one stroke every 40 seconds. Each year, more than a million Americans die from stroke every year, making it one of the leading causes of death in our country."
"Another thing most people don't realize is that stroke is not just a disease of old age," Deborah said. "Today, 25 percent of strokes occur in people under age 65. And more women than men are having strokes."
"The good news is that in the last 15 years, we have been able to reduce stroke death rates in both men and women by more than 30 percent," Dr. Towfighi said.
"We encourage the community to take advantage of this free seminar," Deborah said. "It just might save your life, or the life of someone you love."
Published: Febuary 7, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 43