In honor of our Divabetic inspiration, Luther Vandross’ upcoming birthday on Thursday, April 20th we’re raising awareness for stroke, a common diabetes health-related complication.
I’ll never forget the day I found my former boss, Luther, laying on the floor of his 5th Avenue after suffering a stroke due to mismanaging his type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately his ability to make a full recovery was greatly inhibited because too much time elapsed between his initial stroke symptoms and receiving the proper treatment. Luther’s stroke was given the power to rob him of one of the greatest joys in his life; performing on stage. And we, the fans, also suffered from not hearing his voice.
My experience taught me just how important it is to act ‘FAST’ when you or someone you love experiences a stroke.
FAST is an acronym used as a mnemonic to help detect and enhance responsiveness to stroke victim needs. The acronym stands for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call emergency services. Facial drooping: A section of the face, usually only on one side, that is drooping and hard to move.
Stroke is a condition in which blood supply to be the brain is affected. A stroke can sometimes lead to permanent damage including communication problems, paralysis and visual problems.
Statistically, people with diabetes have a higher risk of dying from heart disease and stroke than the general population.
Overall, African-Americans suffer more strokes than any other group of people. “There are statistics showing that [they] have about twice the mortality of stroke than Caucasians,” explains Ralph L. Sacco, MD, neurologist-in-chief at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Fla., and spokesperson for the American Stroke Association. These statistics show just how high the stroke risk is:
For men between the ages of 45 and 54, which was the case for Luther, the risk of ischemic stroke — the most prevalent type of stroke, which is caused by a blood clot that blocks an artery — is three times higher in African-Americans than in Caucasians.
Awareness of your personal risk factors is the first step toward lowering your chance of stroke. Then, with a combination of medical treatment for conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes coupled with a heart-healthy diet and exercise plan, you can help keep yourself from becoming one of those statistics.
By maintaining stable blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, people with diabetes can increase their chances of preventing a stroke
I hope you will learn from my experience and use the letters in “fast” to spot stroke signs and know when to call 9-1-1. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and say, “I think this is a stroke” to help get the person to the hospital immediately. Time is important! Don’t delay, and also note the time when the first symptoms appeared. Emergency responders will want to know.
LISTEN: Luther Vandross Tribute podcast featuring fans, friends and former bandmates with hits from the 1990’s. Guests include Paulette McWilliams, Pat Lacy, Tawatha Agee, Cindy Mizelle and Kevin Owens, band member Bryon Miller, Vandross family member, Seveda Williams, friends Darren Margo and David Jones, the Luther Vandross historian, Leon Petrossian and Luther super fan, Jane Goodman from Great Britain
LISTEN: Luther Vandross Tribute podcast featuring fans, friends and former bandmates with hits from the 1980’s. Guests include former band members Alfa Anderson and Ivan Hampton, Jr., SONY Music executive Jeff James, Seveda Williams, Dave Jones and Darren Margo.