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Categories: Hope Gold, HopeHealth, HopeHealth Medical Plaza, Stroke

Brain Health Begins With the Heart: Preventing Stroke in the Pee Dee

Strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability and fifth leading cause of death in the US. They occur when blood vessels to the brain are blocked (ischemic) or ruptured (hemorrhagic) and brain cells are starved of oxygen and nutrients.

About 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure or hypertension – the leading cause of strokes. Hypertension has many of the same risk factors as stroke. These include: diabetes, obesity, tobacco usage, physical activity levels, and high cholesterol levels.

HopeHealth Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ed Behling notes, “South Carolina is in the region of the United States referred to as the ‘Stroke Belt’, due to the high incidence of strokes and stroke related deaths. The Pee Dee has been called the ‘buckle’ of the belt, and stroke is actually the third leading cause of death in Florence County. Equally alarming is the incidence of disability due to stroke, and the devastating effects a stroke can have on quality of life.”

Currently, more than 16,980 HopeHealth patients are, or have been, diagnosed with hypertensions and, according to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, hypertension affects about one in three South Carolinians.

Addressing these factors means getting patients more physically active, controlling blood pressure, eating healthy, managing blood cholesterol and sugar levels, quitting smoking, and getting adequate hours of quality sleep.

Programs available at HopeHealth that can help prevent stroke include: Hope Gold, Diabetes Prevention Program, Diabetes Self-Management Education, Cooking Matters, Better Choices/Better Health, and SNAP into Health.

Stroke Statistics: By the Numbers

  • 4.6% in Florence – The Florence County prevalence (4.6) of stroke in 2013 was greater than the state average
  • $33,551,100 – The total cost of stroke hospitalizations in Florence County in 2013 was $33,551,100
  • 7th in the Nation – South Carolina has the seventh highest stroke death rate in the nation (2014)
  • 15,059 – Number of people who were hospitalized for stroke in South Carolina (2015)
  • 5th in the State – Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in South Carolina (2015)
  • $805 Million – Stroke hospitalizations in South Carolina totaled more than $805 million (2015)


Tags: Better Choice Better Health, cooking matters, Diabetes Self-Management Edcuation, hope gold, SCDHEC, SNAP, Stroke



HopeHealth educates its patients on the importance of having a health care home. As a primary care facility, HopeHealth’s medical team works to prevent and detect illness and the early onset of disease, provide routine physical examinations and promote overall healthy lifestyles.

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HopeHealth 360 North Irby St. Florence, SC 29501 (843) 667-9414
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