Stroke Support Group


Striving hard to achieve the goal that 80 percent of strokes are preventable, we here at the RTH Stroke Foundation are constantly improving the methods in which we fight against stroke. In order to reduce the impact of stroke on our community, we now offer three distinct Support Groups in South County, North County, and Los Angeles County that cater to those affected by stroke. You may choose which region is closer to your residence and read its description for further information.

***To register to attend a stroke support group, visit our new website at***

Our Support Groups meet on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month with one meeting on each day. The meeting is held from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM, at the offices of the Roxanna Todd Hodges Stroke Foundation at 23382 Mill Creek Drive, Suite 130, in Laguna Hills, California, 92653. The meeting  is a larger group and has educational speakers with group support, growth and healing. These groups are for the Stroke Survivor, as well as the Caregiver. Feel free to join us for us for either meeting or both!

For more information on the Laguna Hills Stroke Support Groups, please download the printable brochure of the flyer in pdf format. For any questions, kindly contact Tiffanie Hylland, Director of Support Services at (888)794-9466 or (949) 305-8450.

Support Groups brochure




This Stroke Support Group meets on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 1:30 to 3:00PM. The meetings are held at the St. Jude Community Services Building at 130 W. Bastanchury Rd., Fullerton, CA 92835. printable brochure in pdf format below.

SJMC-RTH Stroke Support Group Flyer

Support Groups brochure




This Stroke Support Group meets monthly on the 2nd Thursday of each month from 1:30pm–3:30pm. Refreshments served and parking validated. This support group is held at the Keck Hospital at 1500 San Pablo St. 3 North, Acute Rehabilitation Unit, Day Room (3261A) Los Angeles, CA 90033.

Support Groups brochure

If you or someone you know has had a stroke, or if you would like more information on preventing a stroke, please call our office to schedule a visit. You can also visit us on our web-site at or You don’t have to struggle thru this alone, let us help.  Call us today and get the help you need.

We are a nonprofit Foundation:

              • That provides stroke survivors and their families a single source of care and family support
              • Offers carefully trained therapists who will work with stroke patients to enable them to lead full and productive lives
              • Allows patients and family members a source for educational information and emotional support, regardless of age, race or economic status.

We are committed to healing, training, education and support so that the causes of strokes, a leading and debilitating cause of disability and death, can be prevented, and so that the often devastating after-effects of a stroke can be mitigated.

Importance of Stroke Support Groups

Stroke survivors and their family members, friends and others need a Stroke Support Group. This support group is a community organization where they learn more about stroke, share their experiences about stroke, and become inspired to move forward after their stroke.

Since a stroke can be very isolating, it is important for Stroke Survivors to meet regularly with other members who will help each of them face and overcome common challenges. They achieve this by sharing experiences and encouraging one another during the group meetings. The stroke support group is a place for stroke survivors and caregivers to make new friends, socialize, gain realistic feedback, help others and find meaning in life that may have been lacking in their lives since their stroke.

Stroke Support Groups often are the key to uncovering the hidden strengths in many survivors with the warmth, acceptance and emotional support that is needed after a stroke. Family and friends provide important support, but stroke support groups can also play a vital role in stroke recovery. They can decrease the isolation that survivors and family experience, and introduce new friends to replace those often lost after the stroke.

Social support is important in stroke recovery as social isolation has been called a risk factor for a poor outcome after stroke. A Stroke Support Group empowers members with information and provides emotional support that promotes good health and better quality of life. Since survivors not only face new disabilities with possible medical complications, it is so important that they receive information to prevent recurrent strokes.

Stroke support groups offer a place to provide growth and flexibility where members can have their needs managed. Survivors can become more involved by discovering new ways to find a richer life after stroke by finding individualized goal setting, self-help and self-discovery by participating in a Stroke Support Group.

Stroke survivors are natural candidates for stroke support groups. Through mutual help and support they experience and discover individual possibilities with even more potential. These groups provide feedback that validates the survivor’s own feelings and expectations and it is a healthy approach to ongoing rehabilitation. It gives each survivor a feeling of hope and adds to increased satisfaction in life.


I have the right… to take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my relative. I have the right… to seek help from others even though my relatives may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength. I have the right… to maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things just for myself. I have the right… to get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally. I have the right… to reject any attempts by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, and or depression. I have the right… to receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do from my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return. I have the right… to take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative. I have the right… to protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.

I have the right… to expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.

SMART Program



Here at the RTH Stroke Foundation, we are constantly seeking out new fronts in which to combat the prevalence of stroke in the United States. We understand that stroke typically impacts individuals later on in their lives, but there are usually a string of causes throughout a person’s life that lead to the stroke. Causes, that if were addressed early on, may have saved that person from the impact of stroke. The RTH Stroke Foundation has done much over the years to educate and assist the victims and families of stroke survivors, but we know now that in order to fully remove stroke as a leading cause of death and disability in our society, we have to start from early-on with the next generation of Americans. We at the RTH Stroke Foundation are now unveiling a new program in which we hope will grow over time and reduce the impact of stroke on the next generation, this program goes under the acronym of (S.M.A.R.T.®), which stands for: Students learning about stroke and Making healthy lifestyle choices. Aware of Risk  factors. Teaching others that stroke is 80% preventable.

high-school-students-taking-part-in-group-discussionAs a result of our implementation of the SMART Program, the RTH Stroke Foundation will now be visiting schools throughout Southern California, with intents to educate school-aged children on the signs and symptoms of stroke, and the measures they can take in their lives to grow into healthy adults. We believe that if students are educated on stroke, they will reduce the impact of stroke on our society by calling for emergency services when they believe a stroke is occurring. We also believe that their knowledge of stroke will be spread to their family members and reduce the impact of stroke on our society at large. As of the second quarter of 2016, we have already educated approximately 753 students in over 28 classes, in 72 hours of class time. We have plans to educate an estimated 1500 by the close of 2016, with intents to expand the program throughout 2 counties in multiple high schools by 2017. Download our brochure and additional documents below for further information on this new and exciting program.

If you are a principle, educator, or authority of a school in the Southern California region, we would like to hear from you. Contact Philip, the Director of the program today.

(949) 305-8450 or (888) 794-9466

Diane Manarino Fund

As some of you may know, Diane Manarino passed away on June 30th, 2016, in Mission Viejo, California, surrounded by her immediate family and close friends. Diane was born on May 7, 1957, in Lynwood, California, and grew up in Pico Rivera and Maywood, California. She attended Pius X High School in Downey, California and attended Fullerton College. Diane was employed for many years in the restaurant industry in Rancho Santa Margarita, California and Corona del Mar, California. Diane is survived by her daughters, Natalie and Nicole Manarino, and by her loving siblings: brothers Tom Dowdalls and Jim Dowdalls, and her sister, Katy Dowdalls. She will also be dearly missed by her many cousins and longtime friends, especially those who knew and loved her from Hanna’s in Rancho Santa Margarita. She was a lover of beautiful, living things, and had a rose and hydrangea garden which was the envy of her neighbourhood. She also leaves behind her beloved little dog, Gracie.

Diane was a beautiful person inside and out and she will be missed by all.

We have come to learn that Diane had high blood pressure, and on top that, stress.  This caused her to have a massive brain hemorrhage.

70 million American have high blood pressure -that’s 1 out of 3 American adults.  By creating this memorial fund we would like to raise awareness of the serious threat that high blood pressure, accompanied with stress, can pose.  If one person can be saved from this illness that took Diane’s life, it will be worthwhile.

To further honor Diane we have set up the “Diane Manarino Memorial Fund”

Donations can be made the following ways:

Mail to:

Diane Manarino Memorial Fund

C/O RTH Stroke Foundation

23382 Mill Creek Dr. Suite 130

Laguna Hills, CA 92653


The Family of Diane Manarino thanks you for your generosity and support.

Planned Giving

smiling-family-300x198-3965341Planned giving is often thought of as a device only for the rich, but that’s not necessarily true.  If you have an asset you will eventually not need, consider using it to fight stroke by planning to give it to the Roxanna Todd Hodges Foundation.

Gifts may include cash, property, stocks, bonds, insurance policies and other assets.

Such gifts can produce immediate income to the Foundation, income over time or income to be received after a specified period including your lifetime.

Properly structured, your gift may also provide you with significant tax advantages.

For more information, call (888) 794-9466.


The Roxanna Todd Hodges Foundation is one of the leading forces in stroke education in Southern California. The RTH foundation conducts educational presentations, health screenings as well as publishing an informational newsletter. The focus of their education is empowerment of those at risk of stroke through up-to-date and relevant information. Having attended many of their educational symposia and participated in their stroke risk factor screening I can attest to the quality and importance of their activities. The RTH Foundation web site provides excellent access to vital resources and educational materials. As President of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association Board of Directors I would like to congratulate the Roxanna Todd Hodges for all of the great work they do on behalf of stroke education and prevention.

sanossian_nerses-2686109Nerses Sanossian, MD, FAHA
President, Board of Directors
American Heart Association of Greater Los Angeles
Director, Roxanna Todd Hodges Comprehensive Stroke Clinic
University of Southern California


Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Despite its tremendous impact on our society, few people know what a stroke is, what the risk factors are, what the warnings signs are, and what to do if they have symptoms of a stroke. The overwhelming majority of the ~800,000 strokes that occur each year could be prevented through awareness and optimal management of blood pressure, and through lifestyle changes to healthier diets, greater physical activity, and smoking cessation. Through its dedication to community education, the Roxanna Todd Hodges Foundation is increasing stroke awareness and promoting risk factor control, factors which will ultimately have a tremendous impact on preventing strokes.

Amytis Towfighi, MD
Associate Chief Medical Officer
Chief, Stroke System of Care
Chair, Department of Neurology
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology
USC Keck School of Medicine

The Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center promotes the ongoing stroke education and screenings that are sponsored by the Roxanna Todd Hodges Foundation. Education is power and the senior community needs to remain vigilant of stroke prevention, and the early interventions if a stroke occurs. The Foundation has taken a leading role in getting the word out to the people who are interested in reducing Brain Attacks.

florence-sylvester-memorial-sr-center-300x199-1677227Cheryl Wieland, RN-BC, BSN, CCM Age Well Senior Services

Case Management / Health & Wellness Coordinator

Long Beach Memorial Hospital has been working with the Roxanna Todd Hodges Foundation for approximately 8 years. We joined forces with the same mission of providing education to the community to prevent strokes.

Over the years we have educated thousands of people and provided support to stroke survivors and their caregivers. The resources, professionalism and passion from the RTH family, combined with Memorial’s Stroke Program have increased stroke education to health care professionals, and various community programs (churches, schools, colleges, and support groups). Just to name a few.

Together, I truly feel as if we have made an impact on the lives of MANY, MANY people preventing strokes and improving the quality of lives of those affected by stroke.


Angie West, RN, MSN, CCRN, CNRN
Program Director Neuroscience/Stroke
Long Beach Memorial

The Roxanna Todd Hodges (RTH) Foundation is a leader in “Stroke Awareness and Prevention” in Southern California. The Foundation is true to their mission to educate the public about stroke warning signs, stroke risk factors, stroke prevention and healthy lifestyle behaviors. We are thrilled to be partners with them in the effort of reaching out to the community with stroke awareness campaigns as well as providing comprehensive clinical care and conducting research to decrease the burden of stroke. Excellence is evident in all aspects of the RTH Foundation and I applaud the wonderful work that they do! We look forward to augmenting our ability to positively affect and reach out to an increasing number of people as each day goes by.

leslie-242x300-7143668Leslie J. Tarlow, RN, MSN, GNP-BC
Stroke Program Coordinator
Instructor of Clinical Neurology
Keck School of Medicine of USC
University of Southern California

© 2017 Copyright – RTH Stroke Foundation

Another life saved at stroke prevention seminar

Downey Patriot, July 18, 2013

For the third time in as many events, a person’s life was spared because of a life-saving screening at the Primary Stroke Prevention Seminar Wednesday at Rio Hondo Event Center.

This remarkably successful series of events has provided free carotid artery, aortic abdominal aneurysm and blood pressure screenings for more than 750 people. These free screenings have been valued at more than $330,000. The seminars are sponsored by the RTH Stroke Foundation, Rancho Los Amigos Foundation, The Downey Patriot and the Rio Hondo Event Center.

“The purpose of these seminars is to reduce the risk of primary stroke in the Downey community,” said RTH Stroke Foundation President Deborah Massaglia. “With so many attendees whose screenings have revealed issues with carotid artery blockage, serious abdominal aneurysms or life-threatening high blood pressure, we have exceeded our wildest expectation in helping prevent stroke in this community.”

Wednesday’s seminar was no exception. “A woman said she had experienced dizzy spells before attending the seminar,” Deborah said. “When we did the ultrasound screening on her carotid arteries, it showed that one of her arteries had a greater than 80 percent blockage, which could result in a fatal stroke. She will be getting immediate medical care to deal with this life-threatening issue,” Deborah said.

Although other results weren’t as dramatic, there were many attendees with Type 2 hypertension (blood pressure higher than 160/100), which meant they also needed to see a doctor immediately.

As in the two previous seminars, the event began with a presentation about stroke by a leading expert in the field. Nerses Sanossian, MD, an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the USC Keck School of Medicine and Director of the Roxanna Todd Hodges Comprehensive Stroke Clinic at USC, told the audience that the cost of stroke is extremely high in the United States, both in terms of loss of life and financial resources.

“More than 800,000 new stroke cases are reported each year in the United States,” Dr. Sanossian said. “Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in our country, with about 130,000 people dying because of stroke each year.”
He told the audience that stroke is the leading cause of disability in America, and that of all stroke survivors, 90% have permanent deficits.

“The total cost of stroke-related medical cost and disability in the United States is approximately $57 billion each year,” Dr. Sanossian said. “The tragedy is that 80 percent of these strokes could have been avoided if people had just changed their lifestyle to avoid the factors that put them at a high risk for stroke.

“Many risk factors for stroke can be treated and some can even be eliminated,” Dr. Sanossian said. These include:

* Hypertension (high blood pressure) * Heart disease * Cigarette smoking * Transient Ischemic Attack or mini-stroke (TIA) * Atrial Fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) * Stress * Diet and exercise * Sleep Apnea * Diabetes * Elevated blood cholesterol

* Excessive alcohol use

“These factors account for four out of every five strokes,” Dr. Sanossian said. “By recognizing the issues that you have in these areas and making the necessary lifestyle changes to correct them, you can help prevent a stroke in your life.”

Dr. Sanossian said that there are five risk factors for stroke that can’t be treated. “These include age, gender, race, a prior stroke and a family history of stroke,” he said. He then named six things that people can do to help reduce the risk of a stroke, including:

* Know your risk factors * Exercise five to six times per week for 30 minutes per day * Lower your sodium (salt) intake * Cut down on fatty foods

* Eat a well-balanced diet

* Report any symptoms immediately to your doctor
Knowing the symptoms of stroke and taking immediate action can often mean the difference between life and death, or even between having a permanent disability and sustaining substantially less long-term damage to your body.

“There’s a simple acronym called FAST, which makes it easy to remember what to do if someone is having a stroke,” Dr. Sanossian said.

The “F” stands for “face”. “Ask them to smile,” he said. “Does the face look uneven?”

The “A” stands for “arm.” “Ask them to raise both arms,” he said. “Does one drift down?”

The “S” stands for “speech”. “Ask them to repeat a simple phrase such as ‘the sky is blue’,” Dr. Sanossian said. “Does their speech sound strange?”

The “T” stands for “time”. “If they have any of these signs, it’s time to immediately call 9-1-1,” he said. “Do not call a doctor, do not call a friend or relative and do not drive to the nearest hospital. Call 9-1-1.”

Dr. Sanossian then explained why it is so important to call 9-1-1. “During a stroke, the brain loses up to 1.9 million neurons and 14 billion brain synapses, the connections between neurons through which information flows from one neuron to another,” he said.

“This is why we say that ‘time is brain’ during a stroke, and why it is so important to call 9-1-1 immediately when you think someone may be having a stroke. “When you call 9-1-1, the ambulance will bring you directly to the hospital and straight to a bed in the Emergency Room. In addition, we now have a clot-busting drug call tPA that must be given within three hours after the start of a stroke to be effective. So you want to get to the hospital the fastest way possible, and that is by calling 9-1-1.”

The biggest challenge our society faces in preventing strokes is getting our epidemic of high blood pressure under control,” Dr. Sanossian said. “We could eliminate nearly half the strokes in this country if we could control our high blood pressure,” he said.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, causes more than 400,000 strokes each year. This is followed by high cholesterol (170,000), cigarettes (100,000), atrial fibrillation (80,000) and heavy alcohol use (40,000).

“High blood pressure isn’t just the leading cause of stroke,” Dr. Sanossian said. “It is also a major cause of hart disease, kidney disease, heart attacks and vascular dementia.”

It is very important to keep your blood pressure in the normal range, which is under120/80,” he said. “If your blood pressure is higher than recommended, it can be controlled by a combination of diet, exercise and medication. Whatever it takes, make sure you get your blood pressure under control.”

Dr. Sanossian said weight control is something everyone can work on to reduce their blood pressure.

“There are some basic lifestyle changes you can make that can help you reduce your weight,” he said. These include:

* Decrease time in sedentary behaviors such as watching television, playing video games, or spending time online. * Increase physical activity such as walking, biking, aerobic dancing, tennis, soccer, basketball, etc. * Decrease portion sizes for meals and snacks.

* Reduce portion sizes or frequency of consumption of calorie-containing beverages.

“The good news is that you can do something to reduce your risk of stroke,” Dr. Sanossian said. “Whether you have a stroke or not is primarily up to you.”

The more than 200 persons who attended Wednesday’s seminar, took the first step to better health by becoming informed of their blood pressure and whether they had issues with their carotid arteries or an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

“We encourage everyone in the community to attend our next seminar, which will be held Wednesday, September 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Rio Hondo Event Center,” Deborah said. “Today’s seminar filled up in just one day, so I would suggest that anyone who would like to take advantage of hearing a great physician speak about how to prevent a stroke and our free screenings should call 888-794-9466 and make a reservation for our free September 25 event.

“This is the most successful Primary Stroke Prevention seminar series our nation has ever had,” Dr. Sanossian said. “I encourage everyone in the community to attend the next seminar on September 25 and start working on living a healthier life.”

Risk Factors You Control

Controlling some risk factors may be a matter of you making up your mind to change some of your everyday routines while others may require a form of medical intervention. Stroke is a preventable brain attack, but you must make steps to minimize your risk of stroke.  It is very important that you know and understand your risk factors. If you have questions about these risk factors, please consult your primary care physician as soon as possible. The most common modifiable risk factors are:

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): High blood pressure is the single most important risk factor of stroke. Elevated blood pressure promotes atherosclerosis (thickening of arterial walls) and puts added stress on blood vessel walls. Hypertension can go unnoticed because there may be no obvious symptoms. It is important to regularly check and control your blood pressure. A healthy reading is about 120/80. Readings consistently above 140/90 indicate your blood pressure is in the danger zone.

You can help keep your blood pressure in check by limiting your intake of sodium (which is found in abundance in many processed foods like cold cuts, canned soup and frozen dinners), drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all, exercising regularly, and keeping your weight at a healthy level.  In addition, your doctor can prescribe medications that can help lower your blood pressure.

Diabetes: Diabetes causes circulatory problems in your body. Because of these complications, if you have diabetes you have an increased risk of stroke. There are two kinds of diabetes, Type I (insulin dependent) and Type 2 (non-insulin dependent). Type 2 has been known as Adult Onset Diabetes, but the alarming rise in Type 2 among very young people, brought on largely by the obesity epidemic, is making that term obsolete. People with either type of diabetes generally have one or more other risk factors for stroke: heart disease, high cholesterol including high levels of LDL, and high blood pressure, all of which increase a person’s chances of having a stroke or a heart attack.

If you are overweight, a loss of as few as ten pounds can bring about a significant drop in blood glucose levels. Exercise can likewise help. A diet that qualifies as heart healthy is an excellent diet for a diabetic. While Type 1 diabetics are generally prescribed insulin, Type 2 diabetics may be prescribed oral medication or, if these are not successful, insulin.

High Cholesterol: Too much cholesterol or plaque build-up can cause abnormal blood flow and can clog arteries, which can lead to a stroke. High cholesterol can also increase the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis, which are both risk factors of stroke.

In addition to having an overall cholesterol reading of less than 200, you should have an HDL (good cholesterol) reading above 40, and an LDL (bad cholesterol) reading of less than 100. The best defense is a diet high in grains, fruits and vegetables and foods low in saturated fat. Your doctor can prescribe medications that can help lower your cholesterol.

Volunteer Your Time

022813-01-01-300x199-8701404Roxanna Todd Hodges was a dedicated volunteer to a number of community organizations during her lifetime.

The Foundation that bears her name benefits from the generous gifts of time and energy of our volunteers.  They assist in our office and at our seminars and screenings out in the community.  If you’ve been looking for a worthwhile cause to support as a volunteer, please call us.  We’d love to enlist you in our ongoing fight to eliminate stroke.

We are currently looking for talented individuals in our community that come from all walks of life, whether you are young or old, a medical professional or not, we would like to hear from you. Please fill out the form below or call us. We are located in Laguna Hills, CA.

Thank you for your interest.

Ask The Doctor

RTH Stroke Foundation user and staff generated content should not be considered as medical advice. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider because of something you read on the RTH Stroke Foundation’s website. You should always speak with your doctor for a proper diagnosis and prognosis. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. The purpose of this feature is to clarify medical questions that may be difficult to answer when pertaining to a specific case. If you believe you or someone you know are suffering from Stroke or another medical emergency, contact 9-1-1.

Stroke Support Group Holiday Party Photos

Our stroke support group broke new ground this year with dozens of new attendees and two exciting holiday parties. Our Halloween office party saw dozens of stroke survivors and their caregivers dressed in costumes and enjoying themselves over the potluck menu. This Tuesday, we held another stroke support group party for Christmas etc. Many of the group members enjoyed themselves over conversation, sandwiches from Steffanos, and holiday Christmas caroling courtesy of Laguna Hills High School and their talented students. Our stroke support group hosted by Tiffanie and Donna went above and beyond this year to ensure that those who may have started off the year with many challenges in the aftermath of their strokes, ended the year with clarity and enjoyment in their lives. The RTH Stroke Foundation is fiercely committed to preventing strokes just as much as it is dedicated to mitigating their after effects. The stroke support group was fundamental this year in accomplishing that goal.