May 22, 2018
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Cardiologist, former Miss America to highlight stroke conference in Caribou

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

CARIBOU, Maine – An internationally renowned cardiologist and a former Miss America will join in Caribou next month for a conference designed to educate health care professionals on the latest information about stroke prevention.

Bill Flagg, director of community relations and development at Cary Medical Center and coordinator of the second annual Siruno Stroke Conference, announced news of the event Monday.

The daylong conference will be held Friday, May 13, at the Caribou Inn and Convention Center.

“Northern Maine has a high incidence of stroke,” said Flagg. “The number of strokes here in Aroostook County every year outnumbers the rate in Maine and is higher than national averages on a per-capita basis. This conference will provide some excellent information to professionals. We are delighted with our lineup of speakers, and we hope professionals from throughout the region will attend.”

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die. About 137,000 Americans die from strokes every year, according to the Maine Cardiovascular Health Program.

The conference was created in honor of Dr. Cesar Siruno, a longtime general surgeon at Cary Medical Center who suffered a stroke and died in January 2009. Siruno’s family donated more than $120,000 to establish a fund to provide professional and community education programs in Aroostook County with the goal of reducing the number of strokes experienced by area residents.

This year’s conference will feature Dr. Michael Ozner, a cardiologist and the medical director of wellness and prevention at Baptist Health, South Florida, and medical director of the Cardiovascular Prevention Institute of South Florida. He has written two books, the “Miami Mediterranean Diet” and “The Great American Heart Hoax.” His cardiology practice in Florida is dedicated exclusively to cardiovascular disease prevention.

He will be joined by Jackie Mayer, Miss America 1963 who suffered a stroke on Thanksgiving Day of 1970. She spent several years in recovery and rehabilitation and has become a national spokesperson on stroke prevention and survival. She will address the stroke survivor patient-doctor relationship.

Also presenting at the daylong conference will be Yale University scientist and physician Dr. Walter Newberry Kernan, a professor of medicine at Yale University. In addition to practicing internal medicine, he conducts clinical research on internal medicine and cerebrovascular disease. Kernan’s research has included clinical trials of new therapies for prevention of recurrent strokes.

Daniel Louder, project manager for AMI and Stroke Systems of Care for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Cardiovascular Health Program, will discuss baseline data and stroke quality of care throughout Maine.

According to facts from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases are the No. 1 killer of women in Maine. Heart disease and stroke account for 28.8 percent of all females’ deaths — more than five a day.

Risk factors for a stroke include smoking, being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity and high blood pressure. Symptoms include numbness in the face, arm or leg, slurred speech, blurred vision, dizziness or loss of vision and severe headache.

The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is available online at You also may register by calling Kim Parent at Cary Medical Center at 498-1112. There is a $90 registration fee, $30 for students. Application has been made for up to 7 AMA PRA Category 1 credits for physicians, and certificates of completion also will be provided.

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