DURHAM, N.C. — The way you learn about health risks could make the difference between life or death. That is why researchers at North Carolina Central University are looking at different ways to warn people about heart disease and stroke.
At N.C. Central, stroke prevention is taking center stage in a drama called "Wings".
"The theory is that people are more likely to be effected by, and change behaviors, as a result from viewing a theater performance where they get information and they're entertained," said Karen Dacons-Brock, NCCU Department of Theatre director.
The drama also serves as research.
Audience members fill out surveys before and after the play. The surveys are compared to other audience groups who learn health facts in a PowerPoint presentation.
Stroke is caused by an abrupt loss of blood supply to a part of the brain. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity -- the same risk factors for cardiovascular disease -- can also lead to stroke. It is the leading cause of adult disability.
In the drama, a character's stroke leads to aphasia. Brain damage leaves her confused and unable to communicate.
Lauren Turner plays the part of a speech therapist. She learned a lot from the story and hopes it has the same impact on the audience.
"You know, this really reaches out to them and makes them aware and alert to the symptoms of stroke and what you can do to prevent stroke," she said.
Prevention begins with knowledge and physical checkups.
Treating a stroke quickly is critical for preventing death or permanent brain damage. If you or someone else is experiencing sudden numbness, dizziness or weakness on one side of the body, call 911 immediately.