About 800,000 strokes occur each year in the United States, and Dr. Richard Dalyai, vascular neurosurgeon and surgical director of stroke services at ECU Health, said North Carolinians are more prone to stroke than residents of other states.

Dr. Dalyai joined WITN during Stroke Awareness Month in May to discuss stroke issues in the area.

“People here in North Carolina are so much more likely to have a stroke and to die from a stroke than elsewhere in the country,” Dr. Dalyai said, “and even more so in eastern North Carolina than other parts of North Carolina.”

There are many different factors that can lead to stroke, including hypertension, or high blood pressure, smoking and diets that are high in fat. There is also a genetic component and there is a racial disparity in that strokes are more common in African Americans.

To spot the signs of a stroke, it is important to remember the acronym B-E F-A-S-T.

B – Balance, watch for a loss of balance

E – Eyes, vision changes

F – Face drooping

A – Arm weakness

S – Speech difficulty

T – Time to call 911

Dr. Dalyai said there are a number of ways to prevent stroke, depending on your risk factors. He said talk with your primary care provider to determine your risk and what you can do to stay healthy.

“The biggest thing that we tell patients is that they really should work with their primary care provider to focus on their specific needs,” Dr. Dalyai said. “Whether it’s medications or diet, physical activity, all these things that are specific to you that you can do to reduce your risk of having a stroke.”

ECU Health Medical Center passes 2,000 Gamma Knife treatments

Dr. Lee talks with a patient prior to a round of Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

ECU Health Medical Center (VMC) was proud to recognize its 2,000th Gamma Knife treatment in April.

“I am incredibly proud of this important milestone in Vidant’s collective work to realize a life without cancer,” said Dr. Stuart Lee, chief, division of neurosurgery, Vidant Health and medical director of The Gamma Knife Center, VMC. “Our teams work passionately to support those battling cancer. Those across our region can access advanced technology close to home, which reduces the need to travel elsewhere to receive treatment. By performing 2,000 Gamma Knife® procedures, we are delivering on our mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina.”

The Gamma Knife® at VMC is one of only two in North Carolina and the newest version, the Gamma Knife®ICON, was installed in 2018. The Gamma Knife® works by destroying cancer cells, which shrinks the size of brain tumors over time. This technology offers quick recovery time and can be done in an outpatient setting, preventing the need for hospitalization. Gamma Knife® also provides convenience by requiring minimal follow-up procedures, reducing barriers related to travel for the patient.

“On behalf of ECU Health Cancer Care, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Lee and his team,” said Chris Wood, senior administrator, ECU Health Cancer Care. “Nearly all of us are impacted in some way by cancer, whether it’s through our own personal experiences, or the experiences of a loved one. Dr. Lee and his team are an important part of how ECU Health Cancer Care provides for those we love and serve who are battling cancer.”

To learn more about the full spectrum of Neurological Care, including neurology and neurosurgery, visit