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Heeding a warning

Janice DuBose, a local stroke survivor, encourages others to know their risks of stroke, which can be the first step in preventing one.

Janice DuBose, a retired special education teacher, knew something was wrong as soon as she woke up. It was 5:30am on June 15, and she couldn’t move. Her legs were heavy, and she was immobile. Scared to death, she called for her son, Foye, who rushed to her side.

“He lowered me to the floor and let me sit for a few minutes,” Janice said. “We prayed together and a few minutes later I could feel some of the strength return to my body.”

About 45 minutes had passed, and Janice knew she needed to get to the hospital. Once she arrived at Jackson Hospital, doctors quickly determined that she’d had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or warning stroke. A TIA produces strokelike symptoms that typically go away fairly quickly and leave no lasting damage.

Fortunately, Janice didn’t have a major stroke, which can leave a person unable to walk, talk, think or breathe. She was, however, in the hospital for seven days. While there, she was treated by hospitalist Shweta Mehta, MD, and her regular internal medicine physician, Marguerite Barber-Owens, MD.

“The care I received at Jackson was exceptional, and the doctors and nurses were courteous, professional and reassuring,” Janice said. “I am thankful that my recovery process has been smooth and I have no long-term effects.”

Recognize risks

These days, Janice, who also has diabetes, maintains a 1,500-calorie-per-day diet and tries to exercise as regularly as she can. She also encourages others to know their risks of stroke, which can be the first step in preventing one.

Men and women share many of the same risk factors, including:
  • High blood pressure, which is the leading cause of stroke.
  • A family history of stroke.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Diabetes.
  • Atrial fibrillation (a form of irregular heartbeat).

As a woman, you may have other risk factors, including:
  • Being a smoker and using birth control pills.
  • Taking hormone therapy.
  • Being postmenopausal and having a waist larger than 35 inches and a high triglyceride (blood fat) level.

Janice knew her chances of having a stroke were high, especially given her family history. Her father, John L. Harris, passed away of a major stroke, and her sister, Beverly Harris, had already survived one. Janice’s youngest son, Vandarian Harris, died of a fatal heart attack in March 2009.

“I think it is important that women especially know that the risks of suffering a stroke are greater than the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer and many other diseases,” Janice said. “Many strokes are preventable, and regular doctor visits, eating right and exercising will greatly lower those chances.”
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