Power health messages delivered at stroke seminar

DOWNEY –Dr. Helena Chui provided vital information and challenged attendees to live healthier lives at the final Primary Stroke Prevention Seminar of the year at Rio Hondo Event Center, which was held Wednesday to commemorate World Stroke Day. Holding her audience in the palm of her hand as she took them through the latest research findings about Alzheimer Disease, vascular cognitive impairment and stroke, Dr. Chui dazzled the packed room with her ability to explain complex medical and research information in language the attendees easily understood and related to.

One of the world’s most respected and accomplished neurologists, Dr. Chui serves as Chair of the Department of Neurology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.  “I am always amazed by how Dr. Chui explains these complex concepts so simply,” said RTH Stroke Foundation President Deborah Massaglia.  “I was also impressed that she spent a long time after her presentation answering attendees’ questions about all aspects of Neurology, until every question had been answered.”

The RTH Stroke Foundation sponsors the free Primary Stroke Prevention Seminars with Rio Hondo Event Center, Keck Medicine of USC, PIH Health and The Downey Patriot.

As has been the case with each of the previous seminars in the series in Downey, a number of individuals with life-threatening high blood pressure were identified by the blood pressure screenings.  Likewise, more than 150 carotid artery screenings were done, with several attendees being identified as having dangerously high levels of plaque in their carotid arteries.

“We provide these free screenings so that we can help save lives,” Deborah said.   “In the Downey area alone, we have saved many, many lives and put thousands of local residents on the road to better health with the combination of health screenings and presentations by eminent physicians and researchers.”

Dr. Chui’s presentation was just one of many efforts that USC’s Memory and Aging Center is making across the greater Los Angeles to inform the community about Alzheimer Disease and other types of memory loss.  The Memory and Aging Center includes the NIA Alzheimer Disease Research Center and California Alzheimer Disease Centers at USC and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey.

“One of the best ways to stay current about the memory loss information is to check our new website at adrc.usc.edu,” Dr. Chui said. “We spent a year making the site easy and fun for people to learn about research findings and ongoing treatment studies.  It’s written in language members of the community can understand, and it features lots of video content.  And if you wish, you can join our online community so that you will receive periodic updates.”

In addition to a wide-ranging discussion of the latest research findings about Alzheimer Disease and other memory loss issues, Dr. Chui also provided helpful information about risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke.

“A key risk factor is simply age,” Dr. Chui said.  “Men are more susceptible to heart disease and stroke after age 45.  With women, it is age 55.  She added that, “other key risk factors include high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, diabetes and current cigarette smoking.”

Dr. Chui prescribed lifestyle modifications for those who are at risk.  “You can dramatically decrease your likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke if you will just make a few healthy lifestyle changes in your life,” she said.  Her ten recommendations were:


1) Stop smoking

2) Lose weight if you are overweight

3) Limit alcohol intake to 1 oz. per day of ethanol

4) If you have high blood pressure, reduce sodium intake to less than 2.3 grams per day

5) Reduce dietary saturated fat and cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day

6) Avoid trans fats

7) Eat 1-2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day

8) Get regular aerobic exercise

9) Stay active mentally and socially

10) Sleep well


She also praised the work of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for creating “Life’s Simple 7”.

“You can make each of the seven changes in Life’s Simple 7, and even a very modest improvement will make a big difference for your brain and your heart,” Dr. Chui added.  Life’s Simple 7 are:


— Get active

— Eat better

— Lose weight

— Stop smoking

— Control cholesterol

— Manage blood pressure

— Reduce blood sugar

“You can greatly reduce the chances of having a heart attack or stroke by the lifestyle you lead,” Dr. Chui said. “Like so many things about life, your health is really in your hands.”

Many attendees could be heard talking about the presentation as they walked through the lobby of the Rio Hondo Event Center after the seminar was over.

“Wasn’t she fantastic?” one silver-haired man asked.

“I had no idea it would be so interesting!” exclaimed his friend.

A few seconds later, a woman said, “I am going to post Life’s Simple 7 on my refrigerator so that I can have a healthy Christmas this year.”

“Wow!  My blood pressure is really high,” a tall, black-haired man said.  “But now at least I have some ideas about how to get it down where it needs to be.”

And in the end, this was really the heart of Dr. Chui’s message.  Because when it comes to your personal health, your actions speak much louder than your words.

“So many of our attendees were inspired by what Dr. Chui told them,” Deborah said.  “She gave us priceless advice to improve our lives.  We are very grateful that she shared her insights with us.”



Published: Oct. 30, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 29

HealthGreg Waskul