The death of actor Luke Perry, a Mansfield native, is a solemn reminder that strokes can happen at any age.
Perry, known for his breakout role as Dylan McKay in the television series “Beverly Hills, 90210,” died Monday following a stroke last week.
A stroke, which is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans, typically affects those 60 and older.
“But we’ve seen younger patients in their 30s, 40s and 50s,” said neurologist Dr. Gubert Tan, with OhioHealth Neurologic Physicians and medical stroke director at OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital.
That’s why it’s imperative to understand the risk factors, Tan said.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
Drug-use (mostly stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine) is another factor that is sometimes associated with strokes, particularly in younger adults, Tan said.
An estimated 85 percent of strokes are ischemic, meaning blood flow through the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked.
The remaining 15 percent of strokes are hemorrhagic, which happens when an artery in the brain ruptures, usually caused by high blood pressure, Tan said.
In order to recognize a stroke, Dr. Tan says to remember the acronym BE FAST:
- Balance: sudden loss of balance or coordination
- Eyes: blurred vision, double vision or vision loss to either the left or right side of the visual field
- Face: facial droop
- Arm: arm or leg weakness
- Speech: slurred speech or difficulty talking
- Time: time to call 9-1-1
Time is of the essence, so don’t delay calling 9-1-1 if you observe any of these signs, Tan advised.
While there are certain risk factors that can’t be prevented like age or family history, there are still several things that can be done to lower the risk of having a stroke:
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure, ideally 120/80 mmHg
- Have your cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked
- Don’t smoke
- Follow a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly (ideally at least 150 minutes of exercise a week)
- Maintain a healthy weight
“It takes a long time to recover, so the best way is to try to prevent it,” Tan said.