Free carotid artery, blood pressure screenings Jan. 27

DOWNEY –  The world’s most successful stroke seminar series, which has already saved many lives of Downey residents, resumes on Wednesday, Jan. 27 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at Rio Hondo Event Center with a presentation on Stroke Awareness and Prevention and free carotid artery and blood pressure screenings.

The featured speaker is Dr. Tara Dutta, a board-certified neurologist at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center.  Dr. Dutta is also an adjunct assistant professor of Neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. 

 Dr. Tara Dutta will be the guest speaker a stroke prevention seminar Jan. 27 at the Rio Hondo Event Center.

Dr. Tara Dutta will be the guest speaker a stroke prevention seminar Jan. 27 at the Rio Hondo Event Center.

“The Downey community is much healthier today because so many local area residents have taken advantage of our 12 free seminars over the last three years,” said Deborah Massaglia, President of the RTH Stroke Foundation and a Downey native.  The Foundation sponsors these free seminars with a team that includes PIH Downey Medical Center, Rio Hondo Event Center and The Downey Patriot.

“We are providing free carotid artery screenings at the January 27 seminar, which would cost approximately $500 each in a doctor’s office.  We have found many participants who had blockages in their carotid arteries which would have inevitably led to serious medical issues had they not been discovered.  It’s why we encourage local community members to sign up for the seminar,” she said.

“It’s incredible how fast these seminars fill up,” said Mark Shelton, who manages the Rio Hondo Event Center.  “So many lives have been saved and many people I know have found out they needed immediate medical attention for extremely high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke.”

 “We suggest that if you wish to attend, that you sign up immediately by calling toll-free to (888) 794-9466 so that you can secure your place at this important event,” Deborah said.  “And you are also going to hear a great speaker.  We are thrilled that Dr. Dutta will be presenting at the first of our four Downey events for 2016,” Deborah said.  

Dr. Dutta earned Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Spanish at Butler University, a Master of Arts in Human Physiology at Ball State University, and completed medical school at Indiana University.  She did her neurology residency and stroke fellowship training at University of Maryland in Baltimore before coming to Rancho to practice in September 2014. 

Currently she acts as a co-director of the Neurology System of Care; attends on the inpatient Neurology service and provides consultation to the Rehabilitation and Medical service and oversees Neurology resident trainees and medical students from USC.

Dr. Dutta also acts as the site principal investigator for SUCCEED, a National Institute for Health-funded trial investigating the impact of a community health worker intervention to prevent stroke.  In addition, she is involved in several academic and performance-improvement activities at USC and Rancho

Dr. Dutta will be providing vital information about stroke.  “Eighty percent of strokes can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes,” Deborah said.  “Dr. Dutta will be there to help inform attendees and answer their questions about stroke.”

“It’s important to reduce your risk of stroke, because more than 800,000 new stroke cases are reported each year in the United States,” Deborah said. “Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in our country, with about 130,000 people dying because of stroke each year.”

Stroke is also the leading cause of disability in America.  In addition, 90% of all stroke survivors have permanent deficits.

“The total spent on stroke-related medical cost and disability in the United States is nearly $60 billion each year,” Deborah said. “The tragedy is that the vast majority of these strokes could have been avoided if people had just changed their lifestyle to avoid the factors that put them at a high risk for stroke.”

Many risk factors for stroke can be treated and some can even be eliminated.  These include:

• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Heart disease
• Cigarette smoking
• Transient Ischemic Attack or mini-stroke (TIA)
• Atrial Fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm)
• Stress
• Diet and exercise
• Sleep Apnea
• Diabetes
• Elevated blood cholesterol
• Excessive alcohol use

“These factors account for four out of every five strokes,” Deborah said. “By recognizing the issues that you have in these areas and making the necessary lifestyle changes to correct them, you can help prevent a stroke in your life.”

There are five risk factors for stroke that can’t be treated. These include age, gender, race, a prior stroke and a family history of stroke.  On the positive side, there are six things that people can do to help reduce the risk of a stroke, including:

• Know your risk factors
• Exercise five to six times per week for 30 minutes per day
• Lower your sodium (salt) intake
• Cut down on fatty foods
• Eat a well-balanced diet
• Report any symptoms immediately to your doctor

Knowing the symptoms of stroke and taking immediate action can often mean the difference between life and death, or even between having a permanent disability and sustaining substantially less long-term damage to your body.

“I encourage everyone to join us for our free seminar on January 27 to hear Dr. Dutta’s presentation and get your lifesaving free screenings,” Deborah said.  “It might be the best thing you could possibly do on that day.  In fact, it might even save your life!”