Perry's death brings attention to strokes

It is remarkable how the passing of a celebrity, a person you knew only through the television screen, can profoundly affect you. I was shocked Monday, March 5, as I learned of the passing of actor Luke Perry at the young age of 52, near the age of my parents. I opened my phone, saw the Facebook post – an old photo from back in the day, with the years “1966-2019” printed underneath – and my stomach dropped to the floor.

It might be silly to mourn someone I would have never met in the real world, but I sat there remembering all the times I swooned seeing him on screen watching my recorded episodes of “Beverly Hills 90210,” and how I cried when he perfectly portrayed the life and legacy of the late Lane Frost in the movie “8 Seconds,” and thought how precious and fleeting time is. A large part of my childhood consisted of old shows from the 80's and 90's, so it is certainly unnerving when those I watched on television for years are no longer on this earth.

We don’t think about these things happening until they do, and then we are left wondering why it happened, why he was taken away from his family so soon. I immediately looked up the cause of Perry’s death, which turned out to be a “massive stroke,” as reported by news stations, and my thoughts shifted to how silently and ruthlessly strokes steal loved ones from their families. Perry's unexpected death opened the eyes of many people to the dangers of stroke and news stations began turning to experienced physicians and specialists to extend their knowledge to the public.

A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, or there is bleeding in the brain caused by burst blood vessels. It is important to know the statistics of strokes, and know that they can happen to any individual at any age. According to strokecenter.org, nearly 800,000 people suffer from strokes in the United States, and one in four people under the age of 65 will have a stroke in their lifetime.

Vulnerability to strokes can be determined by genetics, high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking, among other factors. Perry was known to be a heavy smoker at one time in his life and had a family history of heart problems, so these factors may have contributed to the stroke that took his life so quickly.

Those who have had a stroke before are at higher risk of having another, so identifying and dealing with possible factors can help prevent them from happening. Doctors may prescribe treatment for high blood pressure or high cholesterol to fight the chance of a stroke, but a healthy lifestyle implemented by the individual is just as important. Strokes can happen at any time, to anyone, and at least trying to prevent them can make all the difference.

Recovery can depend on the amount of time it takes to receive treatment after a stroke, and it is important to recognize the signs in yourself or a loved one to seek medical attention in a timely manner.

Individuals are encouraged to remember the acronym F.A.S.T. when faced with a possible stroke situation. “F” stands for facial droop, “A” stands for arm or limb weakness, “S” stands for slurred speech or trouble speaking, and “T” stands for time: time to get yourself or your loved one to the hospital as soon as possible if they are exhibiting any of these symptoms.

More than 140,000 people die from stroke each year, ordinary individuals and celebrities alike. Though it happens to many friends and loved ones every day, the death of a well-known celebrity is often an eye-opener to health issues affecting the nation due to the media spreading crucial information to their viewers, who rely on their news stations to provide guidance every day; perhaps Luke Perry's death will help spread enough knowledge to the nation and encourage each of us to try a healthier lifestyle and take care of our bodies to do our best in preventing them from failing.

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