The UAB Comprehensive Stroke Research Center will host an inaugural Stroke Gala, 7 p.m. Saturday, May 31 in the Riverchase Ballroom in the Wynfrey Hotel. Tickets are $100 per person to the black tie event, and the cost is tax-deductible; to purchase call 975-8508 before May 25.

The southeastern United States, often called the stroke belt, has the highest rate of mortality from stroke in the country. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 160,000 people each year.

“While the Stroke Gala is a celebration, we will use this event to remind the public of the symptoms of stroke and stress understanding of the risk factors so people can take steps to better protect themselves,” said Andrei Alexandrov, M.D., director of the UAB Stroke Center.

Alexandrov says signs of a stroke include numbness or weakness on one side of the body, difficulty in speaking or swallowing, loss of vision in one or both eyes, difficulty in balance or walking and sudden, severe headache. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

 “Stroke is truly a medical emergency,” Alexandrov said. “If you think you, or someone around you, might be having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. There are treatments and medications that are very effective in limiting the effects of a stroke, but they must be administered within a few hours of a stroke’s onset.”

UAB’s Comprehensive Stroke Research Center is an interdisciplinary program specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of stroke and stroke-related disorders. Components include the stroke team at UAB Hospital, outpatient services at The Kirklin Clinic and comprehensive diagnostic services.