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Health Information Power Sunday:
Helping Reduce Stroke Risk

Did you know that heart disease is the number one cause of death for African Americans and stroke is number three? African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared with whites, and blacks 35 to 54 years old have four times the relative risk for stroke.

Rush University Medical Center is joining forces with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to empower African Americans to reduce their risk of stroke.

Stroke neurologist Shyam Prabhakaran, MD, and stroke program coordinator
Candace Flaherty, RN, recently spoke at the Power Sunday program in
Chicago. Power Sunday is a nationwide effort to increase awareness of
stroke risk in the African-American population and to encourage taking
steps to lower that risk.

"You can reduce your chances of having a stroke," said Prabhakaran. "You have the power to live a healthier lifestyle. If you smoke, quit! Get up and get moving. Regular physical activity helps reduce your risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke."

Other risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Among blacks age 20 and older, about 37 percent of men and 46 percent of women have total blood cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dl, which is the level at which the risk for heart disease and stroke starts to rise. High blood pressure affects more than 40 percent of non-Hispanic blacks.

Diabetes is common in African Americans and affects about 2.7 million black Americans age 20 or older. Obesity is a major health problem for all Americans, especially for African Americans. Studies show that 77 percent of non-Hispanic black women and 68 percent of non-Hispanic black men age 20 and older are overweight or obese.

Warning Signs
The warning signs of stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or 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.

"If you do experience a stroke, time is of the essence. Patients need to get to the ER as quickly as possibly," said Flaherty.  "If we can get people to recognize the signs of stroke and immediately seek medical attention, we will have many more people survive without debilitating disabilities."

The Stroke Center at Rush provides comprehensive medical treatment for stroke and related conditions, from immediate treatment for people experiencing a stroke to specialized follow-up care for those coping with the aftermath of a stroke or stroke-related condition. For more information about stroke and a stroke risk assessment visit or call 1-888-352-RUSH.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For more information about stroke and stroke rehabilitative services at Rush visit our Stroke and Cerebral Vascular Disease home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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Power Sunday:
Helping Reduce Stroke Risk

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