ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The death of Luke Perry after the actor suffered a ‘massive stroke’ has brought the disease back into the spotlight. Perry, known for his role in “Beverly Hills 90210” died Monday at 52 years old, evidence that stroke can happen at any age.
It’s the fifth leading cause of death in America and occurs when there’s an interruption of blood flow, usually from a clot or other blockage of a vessel to the brain.
About seven in one million people in the United States under age 50 die each year from strokes caused by a blocked blood vessel, and nine per million die from a brain hemorrhage, the two main types of strokes.
While some often tend to think of a stroke as something that affects older folks, more people in their 30s and 40s are being hospitalized for strokes, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The report found a 42 percent increase in men and 30 percent in women between 2003 and 2012.
Dr. Robert Brown, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, says hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, and obesity are factors that put people at greater risk for stroke.
“We are seeing more strokes in younger people, for reasons that are not entirely clear, but it may be related to risk factors that occur in younger people that include recreational drugs that may lead to stroke as well,” said Dr. Robert Brown Jr., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
It’s important for everyone to recognize stroke risk factors and adopt a healthy lifestyle, according to Dr. Brown.
- Controlling high blood pressure. “If they have elevated blood pressure, they should take medications to try to bring that down.”
- Avoid cigarette smoking, limit drinking alcohol.
- Controlling diabetes.
- Exercising regularly and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
- Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
The American Heart Association recommends using the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember how to catch the warning signs of a stroke:
Face is drooping.
Arms are weak.
Speech difficulty, slurred speech.
Time to call 911.
“Every minute counts. Seeking emergency medical care immediately if you notice these symptoms in yourself or a relative, or a co-worker. We do sometimes have the ability to treat even after several hours of symptoms, so don’t give up hope. We may have a treatment that will lessen the likelihood of having a deficit or having some other serious outcomes,” said Dr. Brown.