St. Mary Medical Center Hosts Gospel Music Night For Stroke Awareness

Armen Hareyan's picture

St. Mary Medical Center will host Gospel Music Night for Stroke Awareness on Saturday, May 12, 2007, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Gospel Music Night for Stroke Awareness is being hosted in partnership with the American Stroke Association and the NAACP of Bucks County and will feature keynote speaker Yolanda King, daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, and also national ambassador for the American Stroke Association's Power to End Stroke program.

The two masters of ceremonies for Gospel Music Night for Stroke Awareness are National Football League legend and former Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann and NBC 10 general assignment reporter Monique Braxton. The event will feature Gospel choirs from churches throughout the area including Calvary Full Gospel Church, Fairless Hills, PA; Linconia Tabernacle Christian Center, Trevose, PA; St. Mark AME Zion Church, Newtown, PA; Sharon Baptist Church, Philadelphia; SURREAL Gospel Quartet, Trenton, NJ; and House of Chayah (Life), Philadelphia. In addition to an informative speaker program and performances by these ensembles, the event will provide guests with educational information about stroke risk factors, warning signs, and the effect of stroke on the African American and Hispanic communities.

Stroke continues to have a devastating effect on this segment of the U.S. population. African American males between the ages of 35 and 54 have a four times greater risk of stroke than Caucasian males in the same age group. Further, nearly 80 percent of African Americans who have a stroke die of stroke complications, compared with 52 percent in all people with strokes. Hispanics have strokes at younger ages than other groups, and hemorrhagic strokes occur more commonly in Hispanics than in any other group.

Gospel Music Night for Stroke Awareness was developed in response to these concerns by a coalition spearheaded by Dr. Emil Matarese, neurologist and director of St. Mary's Primary Stroke Center. "With May being National Stroke Awareness Month, this is an ideal time to raise awareness in the African American and Hispanic communities about the risk factors and warning signs of stroke and the need to seek treatment quickly. Also, this event is scheduled the day before Mother's Day as a way to honor all mothers, including those who may have suffered a stroke. Gospel Music Night for Stroke Awareness is an entertaining, yet educational program created with this objective in mind," said Matarese. "We hope that this event will serve as a model for other communities across the United States."

Stroke is a disease that affects blood flow to the brain. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke occurs when a blood vessel that brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot. Because of this rupture or blockage, part of the brain can be deprived of blood and oxygen. As the flow of oxygen stops, nerve cells die within minutes. The effects of a severe stroke are often permanent becausedead brain cells are not replaced.

One key risk factor of stroke is African American and Hispanic heritage, yet other risk factors can contribute further to a person's potential to suffer a stroke. Those people with heart-related medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart or carotid artery disease, and other health-related problems such as obesity and uncontrolled diabetes are at a higher risk for stroke. Other risk factors include smoking, excessive alcohol use, drug abuse, physical inactivity, family history, and age - those who are 55 and older are at the greatest risk.

Warning signs of stroke are varied. Often, when a person is a victim of stroke, he or she is unable to recognize or verbalize that a stroke has occurred. It is important for everyone be able to recognize the warning signs to help stroke victims. People who have suffered a stroke may experience symptoms such as:

* Severe headache

* Weakness, numbness, or tingling in the face, arm, and leg on one side of the body


* Inability to walk

* Inability to speak or difficulty speaking

* Difficulty understanding when spoken to

* Vision problems

* Confusion or personality changes

* Difficulty with muscle movements, such as swallowing, moving arms and legs

* Dizziness

* Loss of bowel and bladder control

* Problems with judgment

* Loss of consciousness

"We really can reduce the effects of stroke in the African American and Hispanic communities. Many people do not know that the devastating effects of stroke can be mitigated or prevented through treatment. The one major roadblock to this problem is time. Stroke victims have a three-hour window to seek emergency care and access to new stroke treatments in order to have the best possible outcome and reduce the lasting effects of stroke," said Matarese. "If the symptoms of stroke are not recognized, we lose precious time for treatment." Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a clot-busting drug that can significantly reduce long-term disability if a stroke victim is an eligible candidate for the drug and if treatment begins within the first three hours of the onset of stroke.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the number one cause of adult disability. St. Mary Medical Center is home to the Primary Stroke Center, one of the region's first stroke centers to have gained the Gold Seal of Approval for stroke care from the Joint Commission, formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations or JCAHO. St. Mary's Primary Stroke Center and its multidisciplinary team of health care professionals offers patients an integrated emergency response team and an Emergency Department-based Rapid Response Stroke Team to recognize and treat stroke as quickly as possible.