Local News

UNC Program Aims To Get Doctors, Patients Talking About Stroke Prevention

Posted August 1, 2003 3:01 a.m. EDT

— A campaign designed to get doctors and patients talking about stroke and stroke prevention kicked off Friday at UNC Hospitals.

A stroke is a life-threatening emergency. When Elliott suffered a stroke last month, his wife took action.

"I recognized it. I rushed to that phone and I called 911," Mary said.

Most doctors do not talk about managing risk factors, even though most strokes can be prevented. Studies show the topic only comes up in about 30 percent of primary care visits.

"It's pretty mind-boggling to think that there's an illness that's 80 percent preventable," said Dr. Michelle Wysinger, a primary care physician.

"Ask Your Doctor"

aims to get people talking about stroke.

The campaign urges doctors to talk about blood pressure, diet and exercise, and realistic ways to lower the risk of stroke. Another goal is to help patients learn the warning signs. Right now, 15 percent of adults cannot name a single symptom.

Wysinger said doctors need to make the discussion part of every visit.

"It doesn't take a lot of time to get it in, but you've got to get it in," she said.

Patients also need to bring up the subject.

"More importantly, not to be upset when the doctor brings up risk factors like smoking, obesity, exercise," said Dr. Ana Felix, a UNC neurologist.

Felix believes raising awareness will save lives.

"We've proven we can do it with heart disease. I know we can do it with stroke," she said.

Elliott and Mary agree. Elliott still has some speech problems, but is doing well. Mary hopes more people will learn the risks and warnings of a stroke.

"It could save a life," she said.

Doctors said Mary's quick thinking is the reason her husband is alive today.