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Press Release

Stroke Survivor Shares Harrowing Experience On Local Television Show

May 8, 2009

Contra Costa resident Phil Brooks nearly died because he called a friend for help instead of calling 9-1-1. Brooks knew something was wrong when one side of his body went numb but didn't realize he'd had a stroke.

Brooks shares his story on a locally produced television show in hopes others will learn from his experience and avoid the permanent physical damage he has suffered. The 30-minute health education show, Get Ready, Get Healthy: Stroke Prevention, was produced by Contra Costa Health Services and John Muir Health and highlights stroke, who's at risk, how to prevent the disease and why it's important to call 9-1-1. The program will premiere on Contra Costa Television (CCTV) on May 11 at 7:30 p.m. and will re-air May 14 and May 21 at 10:30 a.m. and May 18 at 7:30 p.m.

"I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and I had a family history of high blood pressure, but I didn't give it any credence, big mistake. I had a stroke and my life was turned upside down. I'm not able to do many of the things I enjoyed doing any more," Martinez resident Brooks said.

Brooks said high blood pressure was the risk factor that led to his stroke but health experts on the show warned there are other risk factors to watch for.

"Health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes can increase the risk of having a stroke," said Dr. Gerhard Heinrich, a specialist in internal medicine with the Veterans Affairs and guest on the show. "By getting a regular checkup we can identify these ailments and work to improve them. This in turn, decreases the chance of having a stroke."

Being able to recognize a stroke and acting accordingly can make the difference between independence and permanent disability. The sooner the person gets to the hospital the less damage to the brain, said Dr. Ray Stephens, Director of the Primary Stroke Center for the John Muir Health System and another guest on the show.

"Strokes can occur at any age and they happen rapidly. Many times the person having the stroke doesn't realize it because they don't realize what's happening or their brain isn't working properly. It's critical for people be able to recognize what's happening and get the person to the hospital right away," Dr. Stephens said.

CCTV can be seen on channel 27 for Comcast viewers and 32 for Astound viewers.

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