Increasing Stroke Awareness: Risk Factors, Signs & Symptoms


Unfortunately, it is in times of tragedy, when people start to ask questions about stroke. Yesterday, it was announced that actor Luke Perry passed away, at age 52, following a stroke (CNN). People are familiar with the term “heart attack.” Well, a stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack” in which a stroke is a blockage of blood vessels which cause a lack of blood flow to the affected area (ischemic stroke; see graphic above). Or, a stroke is a rupture of blood vessels in the brain, causing a leakage of blood (hemorrhagic stroke).

According to the CDC, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and is a major cause of serious disability in adults. About 795,000 people suffer a stroke yearly. And, according to Stanford University, around 10 percent of people in the US who experience a stroke, are younger than age 45. I have also read reports that up to 1/3 of strokes occur at ages younger than 65 years old.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke (CDC; also see video above)

  • Sudden numbness of weakness in face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of body

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech

  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

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

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Prevention of Stroke (CDC:)

  • Control high blood pressure

  • Reduce high cholesterol

  • Control diabetes

  • Treat heart disease

  • Stop Smoking

  • Work with your health care team

  • Recognize warning signs

I was reminded by someone on social media, that we have a local story of stroke in a young person, specifically a 16 year old girl who suffered a stroke at volleyball camp. Her original story was shared in the Fall of 2018, and her updated story is in the video above and at this link.

So, the bottom line is this: A stroke is a tragic situation, and can happen to anyone at any age. The best things that you can do are to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke. In addition, know your risk factors for stroke, control your chronic medical conditions (like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes), stop smoking, and above all, check in with your health care team, and listen to your doctor. Check out more of my videos below, some almost 10 years ago - Yikes!