News of Luke Perry’s death due to a massive stroke spurred heartache among his fans. Seemingly healthy and only 52 years old, his death provokes questions about who is vulnerable to stroke and whether it is common in middle age.
“The older we get, the higher our risk of stroke is. But anyone can have a stroke, including babies and toddlers,” said Eric Sauvageau, MD, director of Baptist Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center. “Many of our patients are in their 50s.”
There are some risk factors that are out of your control, such as family history. Race and gender also play a role – females and African Americans are at higher risk.
The good news is that there are risk factors you can control. Here are some lifestyle guidelines from the National Stroke Association:
- Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke.
- Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (commonly known as AFib). Your doctor can detect AFib, a heart rhythm disorder, by carefully checking your pulse.
- If you smoke, stop. It doubles your risk for stroke.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Know your cholesterol number. Lowering it may reduce your stroke risk.
- Control your diabetes. This condition can increases risk for stroke.
- Exercise daily. As little as 30 minutes of exercise a day can improve your health and may reduce your risk of stroke.
- Eat a low-sodium (salt), lower-fat diet. Cutting down on salt will lower your blood pressure and risk for stroke.
- Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems. Fatty deposits can block arteries that carry blood from your heart to your brain.
For more information about stroke risks and prevention, go to baptistjax.com/stroke.