Stroke: The Other Silent Killer

I still can’t figure it out. Name a medical problem and its

probably affecting or infecting African-Americans more than any other racial or

ethnic group. Whether it is HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, or high blood

pressure, we, as African-Americans are at the top of the list when it comes to

medical problems that are killing or disabling people in this country.

The recent rumors about Nathaniel

D. Hale, a.k.a. Nate Dogg, suffering a stroke in December and having to

recover in a rehabilitation hospital only reinforces my commitment to raising

the awareness about stroke.

Each year in the United States there are more than 700,000

new strokes. Stroke is the third leading

cause of death in the United States preceded only by heart disease and cancer. More

than 100,000 African-Americans each year have will have a stroke, and we are

two times more likely to have a stroke compared to white Americans.

Stroke, in its simplest definition, is a permanent loss of

blood flow to a part of the brain. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic

or non-bleeding stroke and hemorrhagic

or bleeding stroke. Ischemic strokes are the most common and result from

blockages in the blood vessels that go to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes result when blood vessels

rupture or explode causing blood to leak into the brain.

Approximately 83% of strokes are ischemic and 17% are

hemorrhagic. The brain is an extremely

complex organ that controls various bodily functions: chewing, swallowing,

talking, walking, seeing etc… If a stroke

occurs and blood flow can’t reach a particular region of the brain, that part

of the body will not work as it should. A stroke can also result in death;

however, the disability that results from this disease cost us millions of

health care dollars each year.

The risk factors for stroke that we can control or change

include, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise,

poor nutrition, substance abuse (especially cocaine, heroin, amphetamines),

socioeconomic status, and geographic location. The risk factors that we cannot

control include:

Age - as we get

older the chance of having a stroke increases

Gender - men have

more strokes than women, until we get older when the numbers start to even out

Family history -

if you have a family history of stroke, your risk increases; and if you have

had a stroke in the past your risk is also increased.

The warning signs of

stroke include:

Sudden numbness or weakness

of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)Sudden confusion, trouble

speaking or understanding speechSudden trouble seeing in one

or both eyesSudden trouble walking,

dizziness, loss of balance and/or coordinationSudden severe headache with

no known cause


you are aware of these warning signs and call 911 immediately, you can not only

save someone’s life, but significantly reduce the chances of your friend,

family or loved one suffering long term disability.

Every single minute counts! 

Time lost is a brain lost. There

are treatment options available if a stroke is detected in time.

Remember that a stroke is not inevitable; if you know the

risk factors and control them, see your doctor on a regular basis, get

physically active, stop smoking, and eat a balanced and healthy diet rich in

fruits and vegetables and low in fats, you can significantly reduce your risk

of having a stroke.

Join with me Tha Hip Hop Doc, the American Stroke

Association, our proud national sponsors Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi

Pharmaceuticals, and the thousands of stroke survivors and volunteers to help

raise awareness about this devastating disease. The Power to End Stroke, an aggressive education and awareness campaign,

is leading the way to positively change the face of stroke in the African-American


You are the power to end stroke! Call the American Stroke Association at

888-4-STROKE or visit the web site

for more information. Take the American

Stroke Association pledge making a personal commitment to reduce your risk of


Nate Dogg’s situation, though unfortunate, will save many

who respect and love Hip-Hop. Without

even knowing it, he has positively influenced the lives of those who respect

the game by raising awareness about one of America’s silent killers. Take your life and your health seriously;

it’s the most precious gift you have!

“It’s Tha Hip Hop Doc, they call me H2D! Come on now; let’s get Hip-Hop healthy! Peace, I’m out!”

Dr. Rani Whitfield

is a board certified Family Practice and Sports Medicine Physician who lives in Baton Rouge, LA. He is affectionately known as “Tha Hip Hop Doc” as he uses music and medicine to educate young people on health issues. Feel free to shoot your medical related questions to him at and visit his website



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