The recent loss of actor Luke Perry, well-known for his roles in the 90’s hit Beverly Hills 90210 and the American teen drama television series Riverdale, reminds us that medical problems can occur suddenly and sometimes without warning. The actor suffered a massive stroke on February 27 at his Sherman Oaks home and never regained consciousness. He died on March 4, 2019, at age 52, at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. As in Perry’s case, strokes can be life-threatening. They are serious medical conditions in which poor blood flow to the brain occurs. Cell death can take place when the brain does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. These are alarming statistics. Per Medical News Today, in the U.S., approximately 40 percent of people who die from strokes are male, whereas 60 percent of deaths occur in females. Understanding the symptoms of a stroke and knowing how to react can often improve outcomes and save lives. When symptoms occur, time is of the essence. Getting medical help quickly can reduce damage to the brain. Possessing the ability to recognize symptoms can mean the difference between life and death in many circumstances.
There are common signs that indicate when a person is having a stroke. The National Stroke Association teaches people to act FAST and to use those letters to recognize the signs of a stroke. If any of a group of the symptoms are present to indicate a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Where quick ambulance service is available, do not attempt to drive the person to the hospital. Medical intervention is often required immediately, and in most cases, an ambulance can get patients the help they need quickly. Per stroke.org, the signs/symptoms of FAST are:
Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
Time: If you observe any of the signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
There are additional signs of a stroke, including sudden numbness or weakness of the body (sometimes on one side), confusion or trouble speaking, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination, and sudden severe headache with no known cause. It’s important to note that, although less commonly, strokes can occur in younger people including infants, children, and teens. Additionally, minorities face higher stroke risks. African-Americans are more impacted by stroke than any other racial group, perhaps in part due to failure to control certain medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
There are two basic kinds of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic. They each have different causes and treatments. Doctors can differentiate between the two via testing. An ischemic stroke is due to a lack of blood flow and hemorrhagic is due to bleeding. In either case, time is of the essence for delivering medical care to stroke victims. If treatment is provided within a short window of time, the chances for patient recovery increase. Since treatment of stroke depends on the type of stroke a person is having, do not attempt to self-diagnose a stroke and administer aspirin. These actions could potentially harm or kill a person having a hemorrhagic stroke, as aspirin works as a clot-busting drug. Instead, seek immediate medical help and let the professionals administer the appropriate care. If you have concerns or questions about stroke, visit stroke.org for valuable information or contact your physician to learn more.
This article is purely informational and is not a substitute for medical advice.