"Beverly Hills 90210" fans in zip codes across the country were shocked earlier this month by the death of actor Luke Perry, who played the show's Dylan McKay. It was especially shocking because he was just 52 years old, and a "massive stroke" was determined to be the cause of his death.
As KTTC News reports, it serves as a reminder that strokes can happen to people of all ages. In fact, as the station reports, statistics show that "about seven in one million people in the United States" under the age of 50 will "die each year from strokes caused by a blocked blood vessel," and another nine per million will die "from a brain hemorrhage, the two main types of strokes."
Those numbers are actually going up for younger people. KTTC reports a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more people in their 30s and 40s are suffering strokes. Mayo Clinic neurologist Robert Brown Jr., M.D., tells the station the reasons for the increase "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." Dr. Brown also points to hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, and obesity as other high-risk stroke factors.
The good news is that many of those factors can be reversed before it's too late, often just by adopting a healthier lifestyle. This means staying away from tobacco of any kind and limiting alcohol intake. It also means taking measures to control diseases like diabetes and exercising regularly. And of course, just like our moms told us when we were kids, a healthy lifestyle means eating a diet "rich in fruits and vegetables," Dr. Brown tells KTTC. In some cases, medication may be necessary. "If they have elevated blood pressure, they should take medications to try to bring that down," Dr. Brown says.
If you find yourself experiencing the signs and symptoms of stroke don't wait to call for help. "Every minute counts," Dr. Brown tells KTTC. "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."
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