As Luke Perry incident shows, stroke can strike at any age, doctors warn

A publicist for Luke Perry says the 52-year-old actor is under observation at a local hospital after paramedics were called to his home to respond to a reported stroke patient.

For those of us who grew up watching him as Dylan McKay on "Beverly Hills 90210," he remains forever young. Now, many are asking isn't someone his age too young to have a stroke?

"We definitely see people at 52 having strokes for the same reason we see people at 75 having strokes," said Dr. Arbi Ohanian, medical director of Huntington Hospital Comprehensive Stroke Center.

The American Stroke Association reports nearly 800,000 Americans suffer strokes every year.

It's the fifth leading cause of death and a top cause of disability and death.

Ohanian describes the two big categories of strokes:

"There are bleeding strokes and blood-clot type of strokes, he said. "Ischemic strokes are the blood-clot strokes and hemorrhagic are the bleeding type of strokes."

Recognizing the signs quickly can save your life.

Using the acronym FAST can help you remember.

"F is for face. If you notice someone is having a facial droop. A is for arm. Either they can't lift it or it drifts down," he said. "S is for slurred speech and T is for it's time to call 911."

Another symptom is sudden visual changes.

"We know that you lose about 2 million brain cells per minute during a stroke," Ohanian said. "So we know that every minute counts. We always say time is brain."

If you suspect you or a loved is having a stroke, doctors say under no circumstances should you drive yourself to the hospital.

"You always call 911," Ohanian said. "Paramedics start working on you right away in the field as opposed to walking into an emergency room somewhere, trying to explain what happened. Then you're standing in line, pulling out your insurance card. You are delaying yourself. You always should call 911. That is always the recommendation."

Prevention includes not smoking, regular exercise, maintaining an ideal weight and staying on top of cholesterol and blood pressure.

"If we could get rid of hypertension, meaning high blood pressure, we could cut the risk of stroke by 50 percent," he said.
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