No-cost stroke seminar series returns Jan. 28

Dr. Richard Rison

Dr. Richard Rison

DOWNEY – The most successful Primary Stroke Prevention Seminar series in our nation’s history resumes later this month featuring free carotid artery screenings that can cost upwards of $500 at a doctor’s office. These lifesaving screenings will be provided at the first Primary Stroke Prevention Seminar of 2014, which will be held Wednesday, Jan. 28 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Rio Hondo Event Center. In addition to the carotid artery screenings, free blood pressure screenings will also be offered at the seminar.

The stroke prevention event is sponsored by the RTH Stroke Foundation, Keck Medicine of USC, PIH Health, Rio Hondo Event Center and The Downey Patriot.

Reservations for the free event may be made online at or by phone at (888) 794-9466.

The carotid artery screening process is simple – a medical technician uses an ultrasound device to determine if individuals have plaque buildup in the carotid arteries that could mean the person is at-risk for a life-threatening stroke. Adults are advised to have this painless ultrasound screening annually, because it is a critical element in assessing a person’s risk for stroke.

The seminar will also feature a presentation about life before and after a stroke, stroke risk factors, warning signs and prevention from Dr. Richard A. Rison. Dr. Rison has served as the Stroke Medical Director for PIH Health since 2005. He is a board certified neurologist with additional subspecialty board certification in vascular neurology, neurocritical care, and electrodiagnostic and neuromuscular medicine.

He also serves at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine where he holds the title of Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology. Some of his areas of professional interest include general clinical neurology, cerebrovascular disease, critical care neurology and neuromuscular disease.

Dr. Rison attributes his choice of clinical specialty to his longstanding interests in neurological disease states and neuroscience. ”Various family health-related issues early on helped to further develop my interests,” he says, adding “I enjoy helping people and their families with neurologic disease and diagnosing neurologic disorders along with providing newly available treatments for various neurologic conditions.”

He is a member of various professional societies including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, the Neurocritical Care Society, the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicin. He is a former president of the Los Angeles Neurological Society.

Dr. Rison also serves as Deputy Editor for Journal of Medical Case Reports and Associate Neurology Editor for Case Reports in Neurology and Grand Rounds. Dr. Rison is married to a family practitioner and has four children. He played college basketball and his hobbies include chess, Chinese- and Filipino-based martial arts, clinical case reports and general editing.

“Stroke has become the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. and the fourth leading cause of death in our nation,” said RTH Stroke Foundation President Deborah Massaglia. And yet, among adults age 50 and over, a recent study showed that 97% could not identify a single stroke symptom, and only 1% could name stroke as a leading cause of death. Here are some key facts about stroke:

  • On average, one American dies from stroke every four minutes
  • Nearly 800,000 stroke cases are reported each year in the United States
  • Women are two times more likely to die from stroke than breast cancer
  • Of all stroke survivors, 90% have permanent deficits

“The good news is that stroke is one of the most preventable of all life-threatening diseases, with more than 80% percent of all strokes being preventable,” Deborah said. “That’s why we’re offering this free seminar to help prevent strokes throughout the Downey community.”

Last year more than 1,000 individuals from the local area attended Downey-area stroke prevention seminars, and more than 100 individuals were found to have blocked carotid arteries, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and/or extremely high blood pressure.

The carotid arteries are two large blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the large, front part of the brain. This is where thinking, speech, personality, and sensory and motor functions reside. You can feel your pulse in the carotid arteries on each side of your neck, right below the angle of the jaw line.

If you have carotid artery disease, the arteries become narrow, usually because of atherosclerosis. This is the buildup of cholesterol and other material in an artery. If a blood clot sticks in the narrowed arteries, blood can’t reach your brain.

You may have carotid artery disease without having any symptoms. Plaque builds up in the carotid arteries over time with no warning signs until you have a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke.

There are five sudden warning signs of a stroke, including:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

“We encourage everyone to make a reservation for the January 28 event as soon as possible because it will be a total sellout,” Deborah said. “Come and find out how you can prevent a stroke, and perhaps even save your life or the life of someone you love!”



Published: Jan. 15, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 40