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'The ancestors were healthy people,' tribe teams with university for stroke risk study

Posted at 5:10 PM, Mar 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-26 18:10:11-04

ONEIDA (NBC 26) — About 50 people so far have volunteered for a year-long study on stroke risk factors among Native people, for whom stroke is a leading cause of death and disability.

  • Meet a woman who volunteered for a study to find out about stroke risk factors among Native people
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Oneida Nation are teaming up for a study of people 35 to 55 years old
  • Amanda Riesenberg works one-on-one with participants to meet their own health and wellness goals

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

A health study is happening right here on the Oneida reservation. I'm your Oneida neighborhood reporter Pari Apostolakos, here to tell you more about the team researching stroke risk for Native people.

"The ancestors were healthy people but we were hunting and gathering," Tonya Laurent, a study participant, said. "So I feel like being part of the study just connects me a little closer to my ancestors."

Tonya Laurent is one of about 50 people who volunteered for a year-long study on stroke risk factors among Native people.

"They were advertising for 35 to 55 year old tribal members and [I thought] well, I can do that," she said.

The Oneida Nation and UW-Madison are studying Tonya and others to see if community involvement and participation in tribal wellness programs impact stroke risk factors. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability for Native people. Amanda Riesenberg, a stroke prevention wellness coach says the Native population has not been studied like this before.

"That's really the ultimate goal with the research studies, is to figure out what's the best way to help Native Americans in decreasing their stroke risk factors," she said.

Amanda works one-on-one with participants like Tonya to meet their own health and wellness goals. The study Tonya joined follows a two-year long study of stroke risk factors in Native people ages 55 and older. It's wrapping up now.

"Just because you have some health issues that are leading towards stroke doesn't mean you have to continue down that road," Laurent said.

The second, one-year study is still seeking out participants. To join you must be 35 to 55 years old and identify as Native American. On the Oneida reservation, Pari Apostolakos NBC 26.

You can contact Amanda Riesenberg, stroke prevention wellness coach, at 920-490-3984 or to find out how to get involved.