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16:05 PM

Stroke Month: Do You Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers?


Former Athlete Suffered Major Stroke; Has Advice For You

On the streets of Chicago, basketball is born into the DNA of young boys and girls.

“I come from the inner-city of Chicago, south side," Antrone Juice Williams said. "It's my passion, my sanctuary, love the game."

For Antrone “Juice” Williams it was life, it landed him a college scholarship, it opened up doors.

Fast forward a few decades, and this basketball life was over.  His new life included a family in Ohio. But the chance at a long, successful life after basketball almost turned to an early death, from a stroke

"It was September 26, 2012," Williams said.

Antrone's blood pressure was sky high, so much that his body and brain couldn’t keep going.

"I stepped on my left side and couldn’t move. I was paralyzed," Williams said. "Every move I made, I couldn’t breathe. The only thing I did was start praying.  If this was the last time, I was scared. Things flashed before you, like what could I have done, but it was too late now."

He was given a 50/50 chance to live.  In a coma, he stayed in the hospital for months. Miraculously, he survived.

It’s an all too uncommon reality for thousands of Americans around the country. Dr. B.J. Hicks is a vascular neurologist at OhioHealth and co-director of the OhioHealth Comprehensive Stroke Network.

"Blood pressure does not hurt until it's too late," Dr. Hicks said.  "When you get that crushing chest pain, suddenly the worst headache of your life, that ship has sailed."

Dr. Hicks says new guidelines from the American Heart Association brings even more people into what is considered a high level, above 130 over 80. Now more than 50% of African-Americans are considered to have high blood pressure.

"A big part of the initial step is the educational piece, we have to know our numbers and that’s very important," Dr. Hicks said. "The earlier we get it treated and controlled better chance you having not to meet me in a clinical setting."

Antrone Williams learned his numbers the hard way. But instead of saying life is over, he is taking his message with the same energy and focus as he took his game years ago. He is teaching, speaking, and living. Basketball isn’t life anymore. Instead, his life is helping others live, by knowing their numbers

"I’m a motivational speaker. I work on educating people about high blood pressure prevention," Williams said

"Know your numbers, and get checked," Dr. Hicks said.

For more information on blood pressure from the American Heart Association, click here.