Free health screenings available next week

DOWNEY – Ali Razmara, MD, PhD, a brilliant young neurologist who is an expert on stroke in women, will headline the RTH Stroke Foundation’s next free Primary Stroke Prevention Seminar on Wednesday, April 29, from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. at Rio Hondo Event Center. Entitled “Facts, Causes, Risks and Prevention of Stroke in Women,” the seminar will spotlight how women can reduce their risk of stroke. Free abdominal aortic aneurysm and blood pressure screenings will also be offered to all attendees. The retail value of these free screenings is more than $350.

To RSVP for the seminar online, go to http://rthfoundation.org/single-event/facts-causes-risks-and-prevention-of-stroke-in-women/ or call the RTH Stroke Foundation reservation line at (888) 794-9466.

“Women have more strokes than men and stroke kills more women than men,” said RTH Stroke Foundation Executive Director Guy Navarro. “It is our mission at the RTH Stroke Foundation to improve stroke awareness and provide more education to younger women since the risk of stroke in women increases with age.”

The numbers for women and stroke are devastating:

  • Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in women.
  • In the United States, more than half of the estimated 795,000 new or recurrent strokes occur in women each year.
  • Women have 55,000 more strokes than men each year.
  • 60 percent of deaths related to stroke occur in women. .

While the stroke risk factors put women more at risk than men, many of the risk factors for stroke are equally dangerous to both men and women. These include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • obesity
  • excessive alcohol use
  • lack of exercise.

“Women differ from men in important physiologic ways, including hormonal factors, pregnancy and childbirth, and psychosocial factors that can all influence risk for stroke,” Dr. Razmara said.

“For example, pregnant women with very high blood pressure should be treated with safe blood pressure medications,” he said. “Women with history of chronic hypertension before pregnancy or previous pregnancy-related hypertension should be considered for low-dose aspirin from the 12th week of gestation to lower preeclampsia risk (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system).

“Women who have preeclampsia have twice the risk of stroke and four times the risk of elevated blood pressure later in life.,” Dr. Razmara said. “Preeclampsia should be recognized as a risk factor well after pregnancy and other risk factors, including obesity, high cholesterol, and smoking should be treated earlier in these women,” he added

The doctor said that women should be screened for high blood pressure before taking birth control pills, since the combination of hypertension and birth control pills increases the risk for stroke. Additionally, the use of hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women has been associated with increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.

“Hormone replacement therapy should not be used for primary or secondary stroke prevention in post-menopausal women,” Dr. Razmara said.

Two more interesting facts from Dr. Razmara are that women are four times more likely to have migraine headaches than men, and that migraines with aura have been associated with stroke. Migraine with aura is defined as a migraine headache that is usually associated with a visual disturbance, but can also be a sensory, motor, or speech disturbance.

The association between migraine with aura and stroke risk is higher for women than men,” Dr. Ramzara said. “In women with migraine with aura, the risk of stroke increases even more in those using oral contraceptives and in cigarette smokers.”

“Also, smoking increases the risk of stroke even more in women with migraine with aura. Thus, smoking cessation is strongly recommended in women with migraine headaches and reducing the frequency of migraines may be helpful,” he added.

Dr. Razmara is currently Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Division of Critical Care and Stroke, Department of Neurology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and is on the full-time neurology staff at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey.

He grew up in Newport Beach, then spent his college years at UC Irvine, where he earned four degrees; Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemistry and Biological Sciences, a PhD in Parmacology and Toxicology, and then his MD.

He traveled to Boston to do his internship, residency and fellowship in the Harvard Medical School System at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. He returned to Southern California to join the Neurocritical Care and Stroke team at Keck Medicine of USC as an assistant professor.

Dr. Razmara is board certified in Neurology and Vascular Neurology, and is a member of the American Stroke Association and the American Academy of Neurology. Some of his most recent research involves unique stroke risk factors for women as well as stroke prevention in women.

“We are very fortunate that Dr. Amy Towfighi was able to recruit someone of Dr. Ramzara’s caliber to Rancho/USC,” said world-renowned neurologist Helena Chui, MD. Dr. Chui, a regular speaker in the Primary Stroke Prevention Seminar series, chairs the USC Neurology Department. ”Patients love and trust him, because he radiates kindness, dedication, and competence.”

“The Downey Primary Stroke Prevention Seminar Series is held in partnership with PIH Health, The Downey Patriot and Rio Hondo Event Center,” Guy said. “The seminars have helped save many lives and have been acknowledged as the most successful stroke prevention events ever undertaken.

“We encourage all our friends in Downey to take advantage of the free seminar and life-saving screenings on April 29 by making a reservation today,” Guy said, “because based on our previous seminars, we know that this event will be a sellout.”

 

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Published: April 16, 2015 - Volume 14 - Issue 01