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Stroke at a Young Age — the risk is there but it is not frequent

Luke Perry (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

“Luke Perry, the actor who played Dylan Mckay on Beverly Hills, 90210, died after suffering a massive stroke last week. He was 52.”

That was the headline that shocked so many of us.

There are many of who grew up watching Luke Perry in 90210. His death SHOOK OUR WORLDS.

Although we have seen so many celebrities die over the years, but Luke Perry’s death is one that hits particularly close to home. I don’t know if it because so many of us grew up watching him so it feels like we knew him OR because he died of an illness that affects everyone.

Luke Perry did not die because he was living the “Hollywood” lifestyle but he died of something that could affect anyone of us at any time. His death was the reality check that WE ARE NOT INVINCIBLE.

His death has forced many of us to face our own mortality in a way that we may never have considered before:

If a man like LUKE PERRY, who had the money and resources to afford the best medical care, could pay for the best physical trainers and nutritionists, and lived a clean and healthy lifestyle yet still suffered a massive stroke – WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE THE REST OF US?

Stroke at a Young Age — it is not frequent but there is a risk

Although stroke affects older individuals, it is not just “an old-person's disease”. In fact, stroke rates among younger adults have been increasing in the past few years. A 2017 study in JAMA Neurology found that hospitalization due to stroke rose about 41% among men and 30% among women ages 35 to 44 years between 2003 and 2012.

The same study found that 15% of all ischemic strokes happen to young adults and adolescents.

Ischemic strokes account for 87% of all stroke cases. They occur when a blood vessel becomes blocked by fatty deposits and blood has trouble passing through to the brain.

Other types of strokes include thrombotic ischemic stroke -- triggered by a blocked vessel -- and a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by weakened blood vessels that rupture and bleed into the brain.

The cause and type of Perry's stroke has not been revealed.

Strokes are now the fifth leading cause of death in Americans. Genetics and family history can be a predictor for strokes, but smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity and other cardiovascular diseases put people at greater risk for stroke. It is important to know your risks.

Want to know your risk for cardiovascular disease?

There is a new and easy assessment to check the risk for men.

Watching your diet and getting 150 minutes of activity each week can reduce your risk of stroke.

Avoiding diets with:

  • high calories

  • saturated fat

  • trans fat

  • sodium

It is essential to know the signs of a stroke and be ready if one happens. If a stroke is caught and treated at a hospital within three to four hours, the survival rate is much higher, depending on the severity.

The symptoms of a stroke typically remain the same no matter what the age of the person, says Larry Goldstein, MD, professor and chairman in the neurology department at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

Stroke symptoms can be remembered with the acronym FAST:

  • F for Face is there facial weakness or the drooping of one side of the face?

  • A for Arms Does the person have arm weakness?

  • S for Speech Is there a problem speaking or are words strange or slurred?

  • T for Time If any of the symptoms are present, call 911 right away.

Meanwhile, new trends are emerging. Women and African-Americans are more likely to suffer from strokes. About one-third of Americans hospitalized for strokes are now under 65.

Stroke Risk Factors You Can Control, Treat and Improve

We do know that we can control some risk factors -- including exercise, diet, obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease is "preventable, treatable and beatable," the American Heart Association says.

Take this quiz to see if you are heart healthy


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