Aetna’s Dr. Karyn Wills Named To D.C. - Area Task Force To Raise Awareness Of Stroke Risks

WASHINGTON, D.C.,May 05, 2008 — Dr. Karyn Wills, an Aetna medical director for the Mid-Atlantic Region, has been named to the American Heart Association’s Greater Washington Region Ambassador Task Force for the Power to End Stroke program.

Dr. Wills will join other D.C.-area ambassadors to help provide leadership, education and mobilization of the region’s African American community to reduce the risk of stroke. She will serve a one-year term.

"I’m so honored to participate in this task force," said Dr. Wills. "It is tremendously important to raise people’s awareness of stroke symptoms and risk factors, and what to do if you have them. This is especially true for African American people, because they often have risk factors that place them at greater danger for stroke."

Dr. Wills recalled the experiences of patients she encountered while practicing emergency medicine in Washington, D.C. "I treated a number of patients who had a stroke, but did not seek medical attention until hours, or even days after the onset of symptoms. Many people felt the symptoms were temporary and would just go away. But by delaying medical evaluation, they limited their treatment options."

The American Heart Association has called upon the African American community to join the fight against stroke through its Power to End Stroke campaign. The program is a grass-roots effort to engage communities through education and prevention. It is focused on the warning signs of stroke and necessity of quick treatment and serves to engage communities through its ambassador program.

The campaign seeks out community professionals, leaders, and volunteers to help educate and raise awareness by outreach to local workplaces, churches, community centers, and hospitals. Stroke kills nearly 157,000 people a year and is the No. 3 leading cause of death in the United States. That’s about one of every 15 deaths. In fact, every three minutes, someone dies of stroke. The African American community is especially at danger, as African Americans have twice the risk of incidence than white people.

Dr. Wills serves the Maryland and District of Columbia markets as an Aetna medical director. She has been with Aetna for seven years, working in the company’s patient management department.

Among her responsibilities, Dr. Wills supports ethnic and racial diversity activities in the market, as well as the development of high-performance provider initiatives with local university medical centers. She also works on Aetna’s health literacy work group, which developed a multi-dimensional strategy to improve health literacy awareness.

Dr. Wills graduated from Spelman College and the Howard University College of Medicine, and is board-certified in emergency medicine. She is a member of The District of Columbia Medical Society, where she was appointed to the Medical Liability Reform Task Force and Professional Standards Committee.

Aetna provides and administers health benefits to approximately 1 million people in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 37.3 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates.  

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