In wake of Luke Perry’s death, a renewed focus on stroke |

In wake of Luke Perry’s death, a renewed focus on stroke

Emily Balser

If you’re wondering how it’s possible that Luke Perry died from a stroke at only 52 years old, you might be surprised.

It’s more common to suffer a stroke earlier in life than some may think.

Dr. Rick Williamson, director of endovascular neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital, said out of the roughly 800,000 people who have a stroke each year about 20 percent are people in their 30s and 40s. Although technically still considered rare, that’s around 160,000 young people each year.

“We kind of think of stroke that affects just older people and that’s not necessarily true,” he said. “People of all ages are at risk.”

Perry, who starred in “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Riverdale,” died Monday after being hospitalized for a stroke a few days earlier. No details have been released.

Williamson said most strokes happen when a blood vessel that brings oxygen to the brain is either blocked or ruptured, cutting off blood flow to a portion of the brain.

He said in either case there are factors that put some people at a higher risk including uncontrolled medical problems such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, as well as being a smoker. There also some genetic risks if immediate family members such as a parent or grandparent has suffered a stroke.

“We certainly recommend for young people who have those medical problems that we’re very aggressive about keeping those problems under control to reduce that risk long term,” Williamson said.

Williamson said men and women are equally affected by strokes.

According to the American Stroke Association, the following are symptoms of a stroke using the acronym F.A.S.T: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech and Time to call 911.

Other symptoms are:

• Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, leg or side of the body

• Sudden confusion, including trouble speaking or understanding speech

• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

• Sudden trouble walking with dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Williamson said it’s important to get to the emergency room as soon as possible if you notice you’re having symptoms because it could increase the chances of surviving.

“If it’s something we can treat and reverse then the long term effects on the brain tend to be less severe,” he said.

Categories: Local | News | Health Now | Top Stories
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.