Area residents will have the opportunity to gauge their risk of stroke April 14 at several area hospitals, including Tucson Medical Center.
A series of free, comprehensive exams will include blood pressure checks, cholesterol and blood sugar screenings, ultrasound scans and body mass measurements. Medical professionals will be on hand to speak with the attendees about their overall screening results.
Strokes are the nation’s No. 4 killer and the leading cause of long-term disability, according to the American Hear t Association, one of the sponsors of the StrokeCheck event.
Charlotte Ruhl, 78, can attest to the fact that strokes can come on with seemingly little warning and can change lives in complex ways.
March 15, 2010, started as a busy Monday morning for Ruhl, as she ironed clothes in preparation for a clothing drive for the needy.
The day before she’d been bone-weary tired and now, she was feeling some dizziness. Worse, despite the fact she’d been a receptionist at her church for a dozen years or so, she couldn’t remember the number to her church, where her husband was working. “That was unusual, because I had given out that number so many times over the years,” she remembered.
Ruhl was able to get through and her husband rushed home, only to find her unable to get up from bed. First responders took her to the hospital and tests determined she’d had a stroke that significantly affected her dominant, right side. She spent weeks in the hospital, between intensive care and rehabilitation.
It has been a slow process to recovery. Equipped with a walker, she started walking at the mall. She signed up for a tai chi class. She joined a fitness center and tends to enjoy the treadmill and recumbent bicycles. She works out six days a week. She’s able now to write, although it’s still a painstaking process that requires the use of both hands.
“My progress has been good. It seems slow to me, but you can choose to be happy and positive, or you can choose to be unhappy and negative. I choose to be positive,” Ruhl said. “I don’t worry about what I used to do, but what I can do right now.”
Ruhl participates in a stroke support group sponsored by Tucson Medical Center’s Senior Services Department. The group, which meets the third Monday of every month, is facilitated by longtime volunteers Bob and Wanda Stauffacher, who are able to help members navigate the aftermath of what can be a devastating event.
The Stauffachers believe education, including getting more information about risk factors, is key. “We find that a huge number of people today still do not know what the real risk factors are,” Wanda Stauffacher said. “Even among those who are survivors, some of them still are not totally aware of the signs and precautions.”
Stauffacher said keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control is important, as is staying physically and mentally active.
KVOA Channel 4 recently ran a story about the community wide stroke check events. Check it out here: http://www.kvoa.com/news/6-area-hospitals-offering-free-strokechecks-next-weekend/
At TMC, StrokeCheck exams will be on a first-come, first-served basis Saturday, April 14, from 8 a.m. until noon, with the last intake at 11:30 a.m. No appointments are necessary. Just walk right in to the Marshall Conference Center on the east side of the campus, 5301 E. Grant Road.
For best results, an 8-hour fast is recommended. Please allow 45 minutes for screening. For more information, call 324-1960.
Other hospitals participating in StrokeCheck events include:
- St. Joseph’s Hospital, 350 N. Wlimot Road;
- St. Mary’s Hospital, 1601 W. St. Mary’s Road
- University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave
- Northwest Medical Center, 6200 N. La Cholla Blvd.
- Oro Valley Hospital, 1551 E. Tangerine Road