A public funeral was held Wednesday for veteran newscaster Amanda Davis who suffered a "massive spontaneous stroke" while waiting to board an airplane last week.
The 62-year-old award-winning journalist was a beloved fixture in Atlanta television news for thirty years, most recently serving as morning anchor for the CBS affiliate.
Over the holidays, she was waiting to board a Texas-bound flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to attend her step-father's funeral when she collapsed. She was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Her last Facebook post was just three days earlier, on Christmas Eve, in which she wrote, "Stay Strong, Keep Praising the Lord" to accompany a graphic about how to survive Christmas without a loved one. She also posted, "Thank God for the Christmases you had with them."
Although Davis' death shocked many of her loyal viewers, one doctor says her death, particularly the manner in which she died, is far too common.
Dr. Crystal Moore, a Chesapeake,Virginia pathologist said someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, making it the fifth leading cause of death. African-Americans have more strokes than any population group in the world.
Despite these grim figures, Dr. Moore says the good news is stroke is highly preventable. "It's simple, but it's not easy," she said, adding that most people fail to change because they become overwhelmed. "The biggest difficulty is looking at it as a whole. Instead, focus on small changes over time. Reaching a small goal gives us energy to go on and small ones add up to bigger ones."
She said small changes include things like drinking one less soda a day, walking five minutes and doubling vegetable intake while halving meat consuption. "We didn't get into health turmoil overnight, we won't get out of it overnight," she said.
Here's her prescription:
1. Control Blood Pressure: Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major risk factor for having a stroke. Dr. Moore recommends getting blood pressure checked and taking medication if it's too high. She adds blood pressure can be significantly reduced through exercise and weight loss.
2. Stop Smoking Tobacco: "Nobody ever smoked for 20 years and said, 'Yes, that was a great idea,' Dr. Moore said, adding, "It's a product that kills one out of three users and if people realized that they'd stop."
3. Manage Diabetes: People with diabetes are at a greater risk for having a stroke. Dr Moore recommends getting tested and sticking with treatment if the test is positive.
4. Eat Healthy and Lose Weight: Most Americans need to lose weight, but even people who are at a normal weight sometimes need to eat better. "What we consume is tremendously important," Dr. Moore said, "We are what we eat. I don't like to use the word, 'diet.' Have lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables. Decrease fats and processed foods. Do not drink most of your calories. I've known people to just stop drinking soft drinks and lose a tremendous amount of weight just from that one change."
5. Exercise: Ideally, we should be exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day, such as brisk walk. "It doesn't have to be 30 minutes all at one time. It can be broken-down to ten-minute increments." However, once that goal is reached, Dr. Moore suggests ramping-up your exercise pattern. "Certainly the more rigorous and longer it goes on, the better," she said.