Fewer strokes for Marion

Staff writer

Dr. Don Hodson donned his stethoscope last Wednesday with one mission: to reduce the number of stroke patients in Marion.

“Awareness is key,” the Marion physician said. “Almost everyone is scared of having a stroke. It’s one of the most prominent concerns people have — and it’s preventable.”

Twelve stroke victims come through Hodson’s practice each year, on average. With each case, he notices the patient has made some unhealthy lifestyle choices. Hodson believes that, if people paid more attention to their health, he would see fewer stroke patients come through his door. This realization fuels his ever-growing desire to inform Marion residents about strokes.

He said it was important to remember the acronym FAST — face, arms, speech, time — which will guide them to ask questions like the following: Does one side of the face drop? Does one arm drift downward? Does the speech sound slurred or strange? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, Hodson says it is important to call 911 immediately.

As a preventative measure, Hodson encourages everyone to know the risk factors for stroke. These include a person’s blood pressure, their history of atrial fibrillation, and alcoholism. Other symptoms, like serious headaches, could be signs of a person having a transient ischemic attack — or a mini stroke — many times without someone even knowing it.

“People don’t always go to the doctor when this happens,” he said. “They just wait a 10 or 20 minutes and it goes away. They never think of it, until it happens again. Those occurrences build up, and it puts them at a greater risk for a more serious stroke.”

Hodson said patients are sometimes diagnosed with the common ailments, like the flu, when they really had a more serious episode. During his presentation Jan. 9, Hodson showed those gathered a film about stroke awareness, which included a couple of these stories.

“I was sort of cursing the doctors in the film,” he said, explaining he takes care to diagnose each of his patients in a thorough manner. “I’m glad I can say that I’m not that doctor.”

Hodson said he would like more local residents to follow a Paleolithic diet, explaining that eating like hunting-gathering societies could help to lessen the climbing rate of disease in the nation.

“More than 80 percent of diseases are triggered by issues of diet and activity,” he said. “The way we need to eat and live is totally un-American. We need to eat a lot more meats, vegetables, and fruits.”

Margaret Pickering of Marion saw firsthand the devastation of having a stroke first when her father had one years ago — and then when her husband had one a few months ago.

“I know I have an increased risk of having a stroke,” Pickering said. “I wanted to learn more about the mini strokes, but Dr. Hodson was able to answer most of my questions today. He was really informative and made everything easy to understand.”

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