Mega-Church Pastors, Lyle and Deborah Dukes, Selected as National Spokespersons for the American Heart Association's Combat Against Stroke in the Black Community

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Burden of stroke is greater among African-Americans than any other group

African-Americans take on many battles that are often societal challenges

Lyle Dukes, Senior Pastor and Deborah Dukes, Co-Pastor of Harvest Life Changers Church, International in Woodbridge, Virginia have been selected as national spokespersons and ambassadors for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Power To End Stroke campaign. Power To End Stroke is an education and awareness initiative to increase the consciousness of stroke in the African-American community. Through Power To End Stroke, African-Americans are provided information and tools to help them reduce their risk of stroke.

According to the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, the burden of stroke is greater among African-Americans than any other ethnic group in America. Blacks have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared to whites, and blacks 34-54 years old have four times the relative risk for stroke. More than 100,000 African-Americans have a stroke each year and many don't know that they are at risk. The American Stroke Association states that stroke is the #3 killer in the United States and a leading cause of disability; someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds.

Pastors Lyle and Deborah Dukes, who lead a Washington, D.C. metropolitan area ministry of over 5,000 members, were selected in an effort to bring greater awareness through their international ministry and to unite with the American Stroke Association's objective to reach individuals through the church and other community roots.

Pastor Lyle Dukes stated, "We feel honored to be a part of educating our communities concerning this deadly condition." "It is our desire to do what we can to improve the quality of life, especially among African-Americans," added Co-Pastor Deborah Dukes.

As Power To End Stroke national ambassadors, the Dukes join other distinguished community leaders such as Mary Ida Vandross, mother of the late Grammy-winning R & B singer Luther Vandross; Mark McEwen, stroke survivor and former national weatherman and anchor for the Early Show; renowned R&B singer/songwriter Will Downing and others representing areas of healthcare, community, celebrity, media and fundraising in the fight against stroke. The ambassadors "Share the Power" by recruiting other respected leaders and by getting deeply involved in local grassroots and educational efforts to help reduce the risk of stroke in the African-American community across the country.

"African-Americans take on many battles that are often societal challenges," said Yolanda King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King and the first national Power To End Stroke Ambassador. Before her death in May 2007, King preached, "Stroke is a health battle that we must take seriously and confront together, because the ramifications can be overwhelming and deadly for you and your loved ones. Through Power To End Stroke, we are creating a movement to help each other live stronger, healthier lives. As a people, we must join together to embrace this campaign."

"African-Americans are at a particularly higher risk for stroke because of their increased risk for hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Through the Power To End Stroke campaign, we are teaching people how to reduce these and other stroke risks. We are also teaching our population how to recognize five simple signs of stroke and to understand that getting to the hospital immediately can potentially reduce the pain and suffering from stroke," said Emil Matarese, M.D., clinical neurologist, St. Mary's Medical Center, Langhorne, PA and Power To End Stroke spokesperson.

In addition to the awareness of stroke, ambassadors encourage individuals to call the American Stroke Association at 1-888-4-STROKE or visit to:

  • Take the stroke pledge to begin the journey to reduce stroke risk
  • Receive free information about African-Americans and stroke
  • Find out how to reduce stroke in the community through the Power To End Stroke campaign.

The Power To End Stroke campaign is supported nationally by the Bristol-Myers Squibb/Sanofi Pharmaceuticals Partnership.

About the American Stroke Association
The goal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, is to reduce disability and death from stroke through research, education and advocacy. In its 2004-05 fiscal year the association spent more than $151 million to support stroke research, education and public advocacy.


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