Luke Perry, best known for his work on “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Riverdale” died at the early age of 52, after suffering a massive stroke, a solemn reminder that a stroke can strike younger and older adults alike at any age.
“Although stroke often affects older individuals, it is not only a disease of the elderly. Luke Perry’s tragic death highlights the fact that stroke can affect middle-aged and young adults, even children,” said Dr. Mitchell S.V. Elkind, chair of the American Stroke Association Advisory Committee, in a statement. “In fact, there is evidence that stroke rates among young people are increasing in the United States, and this requires additional research.” Some studies have shown that there has been a 44% increase in young adults being hospitalized for stroke in the past decade.
A stroke is when a blood vessel that brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (termed an “ischemic stroke”), or it ruptures (termed a “hemorrhagic stroke”). This cuts off the vital blood and oxygen flow to that part of the brain and kills brain cells, which can quickly kill a person or severely debilitate them. About 15% of ischemic strokes occur in young adults.
Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, according to the American Stroke Association (which is a division of the American Heart Association). There are an estimated 17 million strokes world-wide each year, and it is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., killing 140,000 people a year, and also the leading cause of disability among Americans, as it will often leave survivors paralyzed or with a significantly impaired ability to communicate.
The American Stroke Association suggests learning the “F.A.S.T.” warning signs to quickly assess whether someone is having a stroke:
– Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop, or does it feel numb? Ask the person to smile; is the smile uneven or lopsided?
– Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drive downward?
– Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
– Time to call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital ASAP. The faster a person is treated, the more likely they are to recover.
Luke Perry was just 52 and gone way too soon. Please take a moment to note the signs of a stroke. pic.twitter.com/YMRB3PKlm9
— Olivia Munn (@oliviamunn) March 4, 2019
Actor Luke Perry died Monday at age 52 after suffering a stroke the week before. Would you know if you or someone you love was having a stroke? Here are the symptoms.
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) March 5, 2019
Dr. Elkind noted that we don’t know the exact cause of Perry’s stroke yet, but “it is important for people to know the risk factors for stroke.” These include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and other cardiovascular diseases such as a family history of stroke or heart disease, or atrial fibrillation.
People can take steps to help prevent stroke, including being active and eating better; losing weight if needed; monitoring blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol; and most importantly, not smoking or cutting back on smoking.
For more information, call 1-888-4-STROKE (1-888-478-7653) or visit StrokeAssociation.org.