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The death of Luke Perry shocked many of us. How is it possible that a healthy looking and seemingly fit 52-year-old could suffer a massive stroke and die of it?

The fact is anyone at any age can have a stroke. One American dies from a stroke every four minutes. And more than 130,000 Americans are killed by a stroke each year.

We have a local resident who has made it his life’s mission to reduce the negative impact of stroke here in Southwest Florida while warning us to “wake up to the stroke facts.”

Bob Mandell, a stroke survivor, makes it his business to create awareness of stroke risk factors with his Stroke Recovery Foundation. Improving post-stroke lifestyles and outcomes and maximizing the recovery of stroke survivors are among his goals. Creation of a group support service is one of his short-term objectives.

Mandell was an entrepreneur prior to suffering his stroke at age 53 several years ago. Today he’s dedicating his life to helping others stricken by stroke and that’s led to a new career path as author, stroke coach, public speaker and founder of the nonprofit Stroke Recovery Foundation. His book, “Stroke Victor, How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor,” is hailed as a stroke recovery how-to book.

Mandell tells us that “during the past year we have expanded our reach from stroke recovery to stroke prevention and awareness. The good news is that 80 percent of strokes are preventable with lifestyle changes. In this regard we have created the ‘10 Pillars of Stroke Prevention’ and the ‘Signs and Symptoms of Stroke list.’ ” 

Pillar one on the pillars list urges us to have an annual physical exam and to talk with our doctor about any medical issues we’re experiencing. Pillar two would have us take control of our blood pressure. Pillar three focuses on eating less. Pillar four reminds us to exercise and increase our day-to-day physical movement. Pillar five is an admonition to lose weight. Pillars six through 10 address smoking, drinking alcohol, the need for carotid artery screening, controlling diabetes and paying attention to atrial fibrillation should we have it.

Then the all-important signs and symptoms list comes with a reminder that stroke is an emergency while warning us to act immediately if we notice sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on just one side of the body. We need to act immediately if there’s a sudden droopiness of the mouth while trying to smile, a sudden onset of blurred, blackened or double vision in one or both eyes, or a sudden severe or persistent headache. A sudden loss of balance or coordination or sudden trouble with speaking or understanding speech should also trigger an immediate call to 911. Mandell warns us to not drive to the hospital. “Lost time is brain loss, and brain loss increases disability,” he stresses.

“Our celebration of International Women’s Day, last week, should remind us that stroke is also a women’s issue,” according to Mandell. “First of all, more women than men suffer strokes. Secondly, stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer. Finally, women call ambulances for their men but not for themselves. It’s time for women to take care of themselves, too,” Mandell implores in his call for action.

To learn more about the work of the Stroke Recovery Foundation, visit www.strokerecoveryfoundation.org. You can reach out by sending an email to info@strokerf.org, or by calling 239-254-8266 for a free consultation. Note that there is a fee attached to personal coaching recovery services beyond the initial call.

More: Making A Difference: Providing care to at-risk children

Joe Landon is a communications consultant having retired as executive director of communications for the Collier County School District. Send suggestions for future columns to JoeLandon@Outlook.com.

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