Actor Luke Perry dies of a stroke at age 52: how strokes at a younger age could be more lethal
Actor Luke Perry, who shot to fame in the 1990s in the TV series "Beverly Hills, 90210", has died of a stroke at the age of 52.
In a statement, Perry's family said he died Monday after a "massive stroke" suffered last Wednesday, the New York Times reported.
He had been hospitalised since a 911 call on Wednesday brought paramedics to Perry's home in Los Angeles.
The Ohio-born actor had made a recent return to television in the CW Network series "Riverdale", based on the "Archie" comic series. He played Fred Andrews, Archie's father.
However, it was his role as Beverly Hills bad boy Dylan McKay on "90210" that put Perry firmly in the spotlight.
Writer and director Joss Whedon, who worked with Perry on the movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", tweeted that the actor was "Funny, committed, and always gracious. He shouldn't be gone."
Stroke remains the fifth leading killer in the United States. While typically associated with people in their senior years, strokes can also hit people at much younger ages.
Earlier stroke often more lethal
"It is more common than one might think," said Dr Andrew Rogove, who directs stroke services at Northwell Health's Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, New York. "According to the American Stroke Association about 15% of strokes occur in adolescents and young adults, and this number is increasing."
And if a stroke does hit in youth or middle age, it's often more lethal, and Rogove explained why.
"As we age our brains shrink," he said. "When a young person has a large stroke, brain swelling occurs and because their brains have not shrunk as much as an older person they have no room in the skull to accommodate this swelling and the brain gets compressed and can lead to death. In an older patient there is more room in the skull to accommodate this swelling."
While it's unclear if Perry had any of the common risk factors for stroke, risks rise if a person smokes, has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, uses illicit drugs or has underlying heart defects. Genetics can also play a big role in stroke risk, Rogove said.
Quick diagnosis and treatment crucial
Strokes can be caused either by a clot (the vast majority of cases) or a bleeding haemorrhage. It's not clear which type Perry had.
Quick diagnosis and treatment is crucial in reducing the damage caused by a stroke. According to the stroke association, people should work F.A.S.T. to spot and treat a stroke. Look for:
- Face drooping. Ask the person to smile – does the smile look uneven?
- Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise their arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
- Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred? Get the person to repeat a simple sentence. If the person displays any of these key signals, it's –
- Time to call 911.
As Rogove said, "'Time is brain' – about 1.9 million neurons die each minute of a stroke. It is an emergency, call 911 at signs of stroke as treatment may help stop stroke."
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons