PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Riverdale” actor Luke Perry died Thursday at the age of 52 after suffering a massive stroke.
While it’s not yet clear what type of stroke Perry had, doctors say 80 percent of strokes are preventable with lifestyle changes.
Each year, more than 800,000 people in the United States experience a stroke and while they’ve long been considered a problem for the elderly, recent studies show strokes are increasing among younger people.
According to medical experts, that’s because risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity are on the rise.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, sometimes due to a clot, which deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients.
Doctors say everyone is at risk so it’s important to know the symptoms and act fast to prevent the loss of any more brain cells.
The symptoms of a stroke include numbness or tingling in an arm or leg, confusion, trouble walking or lack of coordination, and difficulty with speech. Sufferers may also have a hard time seeing and a facial droop.
To help prevent strokes, doctors recommend quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and monitoring your blood pressure.
Caring for stroke patients has been revolutionized in Rhode Island over the past few years.
“Rhode Island is one of the few states that has a severity screen to get the sickest patients to the nearest available facility,” John Potvin, advocacy chair for the Southern New England American Heart Association, said Tuesday.
“In Rhode Island, we have six primary stroke centers and we have one comprehensive stroke center,” he added. “The sickest of stroke patients need to be at the comprehensive stroke center. So we have a screen that we can do in the field to get patients to the most appropriate facility.”