Houstonians are encouraged to find out more about stroke – which recently claimed the life of actor Luke Perry – by attending the seventh annual Stomp Out Stroke Festival, hosted by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) during National Stroke Awareness Month.

The free, fun event from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Discovery Green’s Jones Lawn will provide lifesaving information about stroke prevention and treatment, free health screenings, and family-friendly entertainment. Register today for the festivities, organized by the UTHealth Institute for Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease, at www.strokefestival.org.

“Stroke can happen to anyone at any age, and tragically remains a major killer and the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. The more people who are able to recognize the signs of stroke and act ‘FAST’ by calling 911, the better our chances at reducing its devastating impact. This event inspires children and adults to learn all about stroke and brain health, and most important, how to reduce their stroke risk and be brain healthy,” said Elizabeth Noser, MD, assistant professor of neurology and the James C. Grotta, MD Chair in Neurological Recovery and Stroke at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of stroke. It stands for Face: Does one side of the face droop? Arms: Can they raise both arms and hold them up? Speech: Is their speech slurred or different? Time: Call 911 immediately if any of these signs are apparent.

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blockage or a rupture in an artery, depriving brain tissue of oxygen. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of adult disability, according to the National Stroke Association. Nearly 800,000 people each year experience a new or recurrent stroke – one every 40 seconds. Stroke is on the rise among younger adults, with 15% of ischemic strokes, the most common type, occurring in young adults and adolescents.

Carotid ultrasound, cholesterol, glucose, body mass index, body fat percentage, obstructive sleep apnea, memory, and stroke risk are among the health screenings and risk assessments offered at the event. Education topics include stroke in women, stroke prevention and treatment, brain imaging, the brain on drugs, and healthy brain aging.

UT Physicians, the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School, will be providing blood pressure and bone density screenings. McGovern Medical School students will be providing adult and child vision screenings and UTHealth School of Dentistry will be offering child dental screenings. All screenings are at no cost.

The Children’s Zone will feature an inflatable brain exhibit, nutrition and fitness stations, information on concussions, and helmet and bike safety. Face painting, balloon art, and a moonwalk are among the planned festivities. Stage entertainment will include live ice sculpting, ballet folklorico dancing, Latin fitness, and a host of live music performances.

Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospitals is the title sponsor and THINK Specialists for Kids is the stage sponsor.

For more information visit www.strokefestival.org or the UTHealth Stomp Out Stroke Facebook page at www.facebook.com/StompOutStrokeFestival/. Participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #stompoutstroke to share their photos.

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