Inaugural walk focuses on strokes

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Jennifer Dail, left, and Nicola Ward, right, help stroke survivor Peggy Whitehurst during Vidant Edgecombe Hospital's 1st Annual Stroke Walk Monday at Indian Lake Sports Complex in Tarboro.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

TARBORO — About 75 people braved the rain on Monday and participated in Vidant Edgecombe Hospital’s first-ever Stroke Walk at Indian Lake Sports Complex.

JoAnna Keeter, stroke coordinator at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, said the walk was the first of hopefully many dealing with the issue in Edgecombe County. Keeter said Edgecombe County is No. 1 out of 100 counties in North Carolina in stroke deaths and the county’s stroke mortality is more than double that of every other county in the state. 

“We’ve seen over and over the huge number of strokes that Edgecombe County has and the people that come in and really don’t know what the risk factors they can modify,” Keeter said. “They don’t know the signs and symptoms and that they really need to come to the hospital really quickly when those symptoms happen. As stroke awareness month, we thought it was a good opportunity to get to the community and remind people of all those things.”

The walk included a couple signs honoring or remembering people who died because of a stroke and those people who are stroke survivors. 

“I don’t know anybody out here that didn’t have a stroke themselves or knew somebody that had a stroke,” Keeter said.

Among the people at the Stroke Walk was Scotland Neck resident Mackarthur Williams, 63, who has survived two strokes. Williams said the first stroke occurred six years ago, which caused him to stay overnight in the hospital. However, the second stroke was much more serious and resulted in him being in the hospital for 10 days.

Williams said he learned from the first stroke to seek help right away and go to the emergency room. In both situations, Williams said his taste for food started leaving him and he couldn’t maintain his balance. Williams said the second stroke caused numbness and weaknesses on one of his sides.

Williams wife, Tina, said her husband fortunately never had a problem with his speech. She added that Vidant along with a rehabilitation center in Scotland Neck where Williams is doing physical therapy have helped him improve his balance. Williams said that his mother died of a stroke.

Tina said the doctors have advised Williams to try to stay active.

“I told my wife that I want to continue to live as long as possible,” Williams said. “I’m trying to exercise more, which doing some walking is good, and I got to watch what I eat.”

Keeter said there are medicines that can be given to most patients if they can get to the hospital in a certain amount of time that can help minimize a stroke. It’s important that people recognize symptoms of stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, facial drooping, dizziness and blurred vision. 

Keeter said studies show that African-American women are more likely to have a stroke than any other group in the United States.

“There are things we can modify and manage such as high blood pressure, changing the blood sugars and managing diabetes,” Keeter said. 

Also at the Stroke Walk were free blood pressure screenings, educational information on strokes and a raffle of two fitbit devices.