The world is still shocked by the death of Luke Perry, the Beverly Hills 90210 and Riverdale star.
At just 52 years old, he died from a stroke. While doctors say a stroke is more common in older individuals, middle-aged men and women, young adults, even children are at risk.
For many people, the signs and symptoms of a stroke are not obvious. That was the case for 67-year-old Barbara Montgomery, who had a stroke on Sunday and didn’t even know it.
“When I got there, my hand was all numb and tingly and this side of my face was numb and I mentioned it to them and we went on,” said Montgomery.
Turns out, that numb and tingly feeling Barbara had was a stroke.
“There are two kinds of strokes that we talk about so, there’s the bleeding type of stroke and then there’s a clot type of stroke–so we treat each one differently,” said Joshua Onyan, Stroke Program Manager at Upstate University Hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.
Most of the time, experts say you can tell if you’re having a stroke by using the acronym F.A.S.T. Patients should call 911 immediately if their (F)ace droops to the side, their (A)rm drifts downward or if their (S)peech sounds slurred. (T) stands for time.
“Our brain controls everything. So if anything we can’t do anymore, if all of a sudden we were able to do something and now we’re not, then we should seek medical attention,” said Taryn Lindquist, a Neurology Nurse Practitioner at Upstate University Hospital.
While strokes can end in death, for most it means long-term disabilities. The longer you wait, the more severe the damage can be.
“Strokes a lot of times take things away from people, not necessarily their lives–whether it’s changes in their personality, unable to move one side of their body, their ability to walk,” Lindquist said.
While there are risk factors out of your control, like age and family history, doctors say the same steps you would take to prevent a heart attack, apply if you want to avoid a stroke. Watch your diet, limit stress and get some exercise.