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Stroke and Women’s Health

Dr. Cedric Bright (l), Dr. Sheila Allison

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability. Women are disproportionately affected by stroke because each year, 55,000 more women have a stroke than men. Unfortunately, research shows that very few people know what a stroke is and how to recognize when stroke is happening. It is important to learn more about stroke, how to prevent a stroke from happening to you, and learning the signs and symptoms to help save the life of your loved ones. A stroke happens when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off.  Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die.  A stroke can cause you to permanently lose speech, movement and memory.


  • SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding;
  • SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
  • SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;
  • SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you observe any of these symptoms.

Dr. Cedric Bright
Dr. Cedric Bright

Dr. Cedric Bright, MD, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Director of the Office of Special Programs at UNC School of Medicine states, “You are the most important person in the control of your health, taking responsibility for your diet, physical activity, and monitoring your blood pressure and blood sugars can decrease your chances of having a stroke or other unwanted complication. Remember the wise words of Ben Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Remember Your ABCs
Avoid or stop smoking
Be active and exercise regularly
Control your blood pressure and cholesterol

Women’s Health

The PAP Smear
The PAP smear has decreased cervical cancer by more than 50% in the last 30 years from 14.8 per 100,000 in 1978 to 6.7 per 100,000 in 2011. But today, we are being told they are not necessary every year. What is the reason for this?

The PAP smear is a screening test for cancer of the cervix, period. It cannot test for any other cancers or infections.  However an HPV test can be added to the PAP. We now know that high risk HPV, which is a sexually transmitted virus, is responsible for over 90% of cervical cancers. Most women are exposed to this virus, usually early in their sexual life and most will clear the virus with their immune systems. Because prolonged exposure to the virus increases the possibility of developing abnormal cells, we now include HPV testing for all women over 30 at the time of the PAP smear. If she is HPV positive, additional testing may be recommended.

It is now recommended that a PAP is not necessary yearly in women who have had three consecutive normal PAPs and are HPV negative. This is because a woman who has been HPV negative has very little chance of developing abnormal cells. In women under 30, every three years is recommended and every 5 years over 30. Women who no longer have a cervix because of a hysterectomy for noncancerous reasons and women over 65 may discontinue having PAP smears.

Dr. Sheila Allison
Dr. Sheila Allison

Dr. Sheila Allison, MD., Gynecologist at Southpoint Medicine and Women’s Health Associates says, “You still need to see your provider yearly for a pelvic exam. Also, the insurance companies are still covering annual PAP so I respect the wishes of my patients and will do a PAP if they prefer. In this climate of decreasing medical costs, annual PAP may not always be covered! As always, condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections including HPV.”

For More Information
National Stroke Association at  or 800-787-6537
American Heart Association at  or 800-242-8721
Everyday Health at  or 646-728-9500

Health Tip is a message from Community Health Coalition, Inc. and is written in partnership with Central Carolina Black Nurses’ Council Inc., The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Durham and Vicinity, NC Mutual Life Insurance Company and Duke Regional Hospital.

REMEMBER Healthy People 2020: A Clear Vision to Healthy Living!

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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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