Emory University
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Not Too Young for a Stroke

Luke Perry being interviewed.

Luke Perry, of Beverly Hills 90210 fame, died of a stroke at age 52.

Actor Luke Perry’s recent death at 52 from a stroke received a lot of attention, largely because a stroke is thought of as a condition that affects older people. But doctors are reporting a jump in younger stroke patients, between 35 and 55, who were unaware they had underlying problems like high blood pressure. About one-third of people hospitalized for stroke are younger than 65. At Grady Hospital’s Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center, about 1,200 patients a year are treated.
“Blood pressure, I always say, is risk factor one, two, and three for stroke,” says Aaron Anderson, assistant professor of neurology at Emory. “If we were able to not only diagnose but treat high blood pressure [in all], we could prevent probably 60 percent 
of strokes.”

Other risk factors include diabetes and high cholesterol. To further lower their risk, people should stay at a healthy weight, get regular exercise, and stop smoking.

Symptoms can be remembered by the reminder to Act FAST: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, Time to call 911. Even if symptoms go away, it doesn’t mean the danger has passed.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a stroke that lasts only a few minutes, when the blood supply is briefly blocked, but medical care should still be sought immediately. “A TIA can be a warning of a large stroke and stroke physicians can perform a risk factor evaluation to help prevent a devastating stroke,” Anderson says.

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