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John Singleton’s death highlights dangers of stroke for black men

RICHMOND, Va. -- The sudden death of filmmaker John Singleton, 51, after suffering a massive stroke has reignited the conversation about strokes and the dangers for black men.

Raymond Richardson, a 68-year-old retiree who worked 27 years for the Petersburg Bureau of Police, knows all too well the dangers of strokes.

"A stroke isn’t nothing to play with! I'm very thankful to Dr. Duncan for catching me in time," said Richardson.

Back 2017, he suffered a serious health issue related to hypertension or high blood pressure. His doctor referred to it as the widow maker.

"According to him, with that, it can kill you and your wife will be a widow," explained Richardson.

Hypertension is also called the "silent killer" because it has no obvious symptoms.

Dr. Phillip Duncan, a cardiologist at Heart Care For you in Chester, says that isn't the biggest problem.

"It's the fact that it's the leading cause of stroke, it's the leading cause of heart failure and the leading cause of kidney failure," said Duncan.

African-American men are at greater risk of having a stroke than any other group of men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Black men are also twice as likely to have and almost 60 percent more likely to die from a stroke as compared to white adults, according to the CDC.

But Duncan says it can be prevented with a healthy diet and exercise.

"Watching what you eat and activity because a lot of things that occur are silent, they occur over time, so prevention is number one,” said Duncan. “Number two is, you can't fix what you don't know about. So, getting regular evaluations and getting your blood pressure checked."

Which is what Richardson does regularly to the point where he now long longer suffers from high blood pressure.

"This has changed my life for the better, quite a bit, health-wise, believe me, it has," Richardson added.

Doctors say stoke warning signs occur suddenly. Symptoms include:

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg – often on one side of the body.
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.
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