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Act Fast to Save a Life – Know the Signs of Stroke

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Written by Bonnie Tse

In the event of a stroke attack, “time is of the essence,” says Dr. Ji Y. Chong, the Site Chief of Neurology and Director of the Stroke Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital.

During a stroke, blood flow and oxygen to the brain is cut off and brain cells begin to die. Recognizing the signs of a stroke and calling 911 immediately is vital. Quick treatment increases your chances of surviving and lessens complications that happen as a result of stroke. For Stroke Awareness Month, Dr. Chong shares how to act in case of a stroke:

DN: What is important to know about stroke?

 JC: We need to know the signs of stroke because stroke can be unexpected. “BE FAST” is an easy way to remember them. Sudden onset of these symptoms may point to a stroke:

Balance – loss of balance
Eyes – loss of vision
Face – droopiness on one side
Arm – weakness in an arm
Speech – slurred speech, inability to talk or difficulty understanding
Time – call 911 immediately

Download our stroke symptoms card in English and Chinese.

People should be aware that they need rapid evaluation to see if they are eligible for immediate treatments such as blood clot dissolving medication like tPA. To work best and help decrease the long term consequences of a stroke, it has to be injected by IV within 4.5 hours from the start of a stroke.

DN: What is the first thing someone should do when they experience a sign of stroke? How do we get help or help others?

JC: The most important thing is to call 911. Do not wait for family members or the primary doctor—stroke is an emergency. The Emergency Medical Services team or ambulance will assess the patient and transport them quickly to the nearest Primary Stroke Center. Stroke Centers are designated by New York State to hospitals that have demonstrated they can provide rapid, high quality care to stroke patients.

DN: What advice do you have for seniors or family members who are living alone? How can they best protect themselves from stroke?

JC: People living alone should make sure they have a way to call 911 or have someone who can call for them. Independent seniors should maintain social networks or join senior centers so there are people who can check on them. Home attendants who often care for seniors should also be informed of what to do in case seniors have a stroke.

Prevention is also important. Knowing the risk factors and addressing them is key. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease are all risk factors that need to be monitored and treated. Smoking also puts you at high risk for stroke. Don’t smoke—and if you do, quit. Eating a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, nuts, and beans is also beneficial. People should avoid foods that are processed and high in sugar and salt such as preserved meats or vegetables, fried foods and sweetened drinks.

Learn more about the signs and how to prevent stroke here.

Dr. Ji Y. Chong is board certified in Neurology and Vascular Neurology. She is involved in the clinical care of stroke patients from acute treatment to long-term secondary stroke prevention.  Dr. Chong has been involved in several clinical trials and epidemiologic studies of stroke. She is also the Director of the Stroke Center at the NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital and committed to quality improvement and education initiatives to improve stroke care for the community.

Written by Bonnie Tse. Bonnie Tse is a health educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College.


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New York City Advocates Come Together to Address the Viral Hepatitis “Silent Epidemic”

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Written by Janice Lyu

On May 12, 2016, Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, along with many other local community members, gathered at the steps of New York City’s City Hall. More than 100 hepatitis advocates and press came together on this day to share their stories to commemorate the annual National Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19) and Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (May 15). The month of May is also designated as National Hepatitis Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and educate the public about the importance of getting tested for viral hepatitis.

Despite the growing efforts nationwide to combat the viral hepatitis epidemic, the burden of viral hepatitis is still high while the awareness is low. A lot more needs to be done to address this issue. Viral hepatitis disproportionately affects the Asian, African, and Latino community. It is the leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer. Recently, CDC reported that death rates for most cancers continue to decline with the exception of liver cancer.

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In the United States, an estimated 800,000-1.4 million persons are chronically infected with hepatitis B and as many as 3.2 million persons may be chronically infected with hepatitis C. The burden is particularly high in New York City. It is estimated that 146,500 people live with hepatitis C and 100,000 people in NYC live with hepatitis B. Yet, because viral hepatitis can persist in the body for a long period of time without any signs of symptoms, it is estimated that two-thirds of those with hepatitis B and half of those hepatitis C do not know they are infected. These reports are truly alarming since there are preventive measures such as vaccines and medications to manage the condition. Hepatitis B can be prevented and treated, and hepatitis C can be cured.

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center along with other partners of the NYC Hep B Coalition and NYC Hep C Task Force came together at the steps of City Hall to remind healthcare leaders, providers, and the public about the importance of identifying and testing for viral hepatitis.

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Hepatitis B disproportionately affects Asians. Dr. Perry Pong, Chief Medical Officer of Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, was invited to speak for the Asian American community and provide more awareness about hepatitis B at the City Hall press conference. Dr. Pong stressed that language and culture should not be a barrier to testing, access to care and treatment of this disease.

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In the last 16 years, the Charles B. Wang community Health Center has screened more than 100,000 patients and identified more than 7,000 individuals with chronic hepatitis B infections. Our hepatitis B practice is one of the largest in the U.S. based in a community health center. The program includes awareness campaigns through ethnic media and community outreach, free community screening emphasizing linkage to care, culturally effective and accessible treatment for all patients regardless of ability to pay, training of primary care providers to diagnose and manage patients, and policy advocacy at local, state and national levels. This program would not be possible without our community partnerships and the support of the Robin Hood Foundation and Miranda Tang.

Hepatitis need not be a silent killer. There are vaccines available for those without immunity to protect their liver from the virus. If detected early, you can keep the disease under control with routine check-ups and medications. You should talk to your doctor today and get tested for hepatitis.

Janice Lyu is the hepatitis B program associate at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Tufts University School of Medicine. She cares about public health and healthcare issues.


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Smoking Cessation Medications

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Written by Michelle Chen

At the Health Center, we see many patients who believe willpower is the key to quitting smoking. However, it often takes more than motivation to quit successfully. When you smoke, your body becomes addicted to nicotine, a substance found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Nicotine can make you feel good, but leaves you wanting more. You may feel irritable, anxious, or depressed when you do not smoke for a period of time. These withdrawal symptoms make quitting hard.

Fortunately, there are safe and effective medications to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is one of them. It gives you a small dose of nicotine without 7,000 of the toxic chemicals that the typical cigarette has. NRT is available as patches, gum, lozenges, an inhaler, and nasal spray. There are also pills (Zyban® and Chantix®) that you can take to fight discomfort and help you quit.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Method Availability Description
Nicotine Patches Over-the-Counter The nicotine patch is placed on the skin and gives users a small and steady amount of nicotine.
Nicotine Gum Over-the-Counter Nicotine gum is chewed to release nicotine. The user chews the gum until it produces a tingling feeling, and then places it between their gums and cheek.
Nicotine Lozenges Over-the-Counter Nicotine lozenges look like hard candy and are placed in the mouth. The nicotine lozenge releases nicotine as it slowly dissolves in the mouth.
Nicotine Inhaler Prescription A nicotine inhaler is a cartridge attached to a mouthpiece. Inhaling through the mouthpiece gives the user a specific amount of nicotine.
Nicotine Nasal Spray Prescription Nicotine nasal spray is a pump bottle containing nicotine, which is put into the nose and sprayed.

Other Medications

Method Availability Description
Bupropion (Zyban®) Prescription Bupropion helps reduce nicotine withdrawal and the urge to smoke. Bupropion can be used safely in combination with NRT.
Varenicline (Chantix®) Prescription Varenicline helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal and the urge to smoke. It also blocks the effects of nicotine from cigarettes.

Speak to your doctor to learn if smoking cessation medication is right for you. Some smokers may need to use smoking cessation medication for 3 to 6 months before their withdrawal symptoms end. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of prescription drugs.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Just one day without smoking can lower your blood pressure and your risk for heart attack. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our posts for reasons to quit and more ways to handle cravings, and learn about secondhand smoke.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking.

You can also get free patches and help from:

This article is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation. Medication information is from CDC.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.