Dr. Janet Spradlin, a rehabilitation psychologist and member of the American Heart Association Oklahoma City chapter board of directors, said the heart association has been pleased with the partnership with Franklin because his talent and popularity helps convey the healthy heart message to more people.
Spradlin who is chairman of the Oklahoma State Stroke Systems Advisory Committee and leader of the free Citywide Stroke Support Group for stroke survivors, their family members and caregivers that meets monthly in Oklahoma City. She said Franklin is particularly helpful in spreading the word about the importance of reducing the risk of stroke in the black community. She said this is key because high blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke and high blood pressure numbers in blacks in the United States are the highest in the world.
“He can really, in a very powerful and passionate way, send a message that stroke and high blood pressure are disproportionately higher in the African-American community,” she said. “He also tries to stay fit and healthy himself.”
Other key statistics include:
• Blacks have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke compared with whites.
• Blacks between 35 and 54 years old have four times the relative risk for stroke.
• More than 100,000 blacks have a stroke every year; and
• Blacks have higher death rates from stroke.
The Rev. Major Jemison, senior pastor of St. John, said his congregation is excited about Franklin's visit. He said he is hoping the general public will come to hear the recording artist's message.
Jemison said Franklin's message is important to churches.
“Anytime someone is talking about improving health of African-Americans, it gets the attention of the pastor and the congregation,” he said. “You can't exclude our physical lives from our spiritual lives.”
We can do things to take ownership of our own recovery.”