(KGTV) - The death of actor Luke Perry from a stroke is raising awareness about the health issue among younger patients.
Strokes, which are typically associated with the elderly, are appearing more in people under 50 years old, according to Sharp Health Care.
According to the American Heart Association, a stroke happens when a clot in a blood vessel stops blood from reaching the brain.
Doctors believe the increase is due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes, and poor management of blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Doctors say it’s crucial to recognize the signs of a stroke: sudden severe headache, trouble walking, confusion, weakness, numbness, and difficulty speaking and seeing.
The early warning signs can be remembered as F.A.S.T.:
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911
“There is this ‘golden window,’ usually within the four and a half hours after the onset of stroke symptoms where people who receive medical treatment during this time have a better chance of survival than those who don’t,” says Dr. Amirhassan Bahreman of Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
The only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic strokes dissolves the clot and improves blood flow, according to the American Stroke Association. However, it must be administered within three hours.
Health care professionals encourage anyone showing signs of a stroke to call 911.