SWFL stroke survivor helping other at-risk Americans live healthier lives

Every four minutes, one American dies from a stroke. To make matters worse, nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure following a change in guidelines from the American Heart Association.

Bob Mandell is in his 70’s and is a stroke survivor living in SWFL.

“I couldn’t speak. I was told I’d be in a wheelchair the rest of my life,” Mandell said. “For me, it’s dramatic that I’m able to speak.”

His stroke at the age of 53 took away his ability to talk. But after years of therapy, he is now able to walk AND talk. It was something doctors told him he’d never be able to do again.

Now, Mandell is working to help other patients get back on their feet.

“I think it’s kind of nuts that people can actually prevent strokes. Cancer is something you can’t prevent in many cases. Stroke, you can. So why don’t you?” Mandell said.

He even published a book on stroke recovery after having been through a years-long recovery involving locomotion equipment, constraint therapy and lifestyle changes.

Viktoria Totoraitis is the stroke medical director at NCH in Naples and says the American Heart Association’s revised blood pressure guidelines should be a wake up call for many.

“Our goal is 120 over 80. That’s what we’re always shooting for. As close as we can get to that, the better,” Totoraitis said.

The association says that any reading 130 over 80 or above should be considered high blood pressure.

“There aren’t a lot of symptoms to high blood pressure. It’s kind of a silent killer,” she said.

Which is why regular checkups are a must.

The American Heart Association also says that projections show by 2030, an additional 3.4 million American adults will have had a stroke, a 20.5 percent increase from 2012.

Reporter:Channing Frampton