luke perry stroke and prevention

Here’s How Strokes Happen to the Young

Luke Perry’s death, following a massive stroke, is both a tragedy and a bit of a mystery. The actor was just 52 years old, and the vast majority of strokes occur in much older people.

Mr. Perry’s family has not offered details about the medical findings, but deaths from stroke in younger age groups are rare. About seven in one million Americans under age 50 die annually from strokes caused by a blocked blood vessel, and nine per million die from a brain hemorrhage, the two main types of strokes.

While stroke can be as devastating in younger patients as in older ones, risk factors vary significantly between the two groups.

Here are some of the most common causes of fatal stroke in a man of Mr. Perry’s age, according to Dr. Lee H. Schwamm, director of the comprehensive stroke center at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dr. Lawrence R. Wechsler, chairman of the department of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Arterial dissection. The lining of an artery tears and separates from the vessel wall. A blood clot forms at the site of the tear and travels to the brain, eventually blocking the flow of blood to brain tissue.

This can happen after a sudden movement of the neck, including neck manipulation by a chiropractor or when playing sports. In some cases, Dr. Wechsler said, it has happened to people riding roller coasters.

No one knows why some people are vulnerable. It seems to have genetic links less than 1 percent of the time, according to Dr. Schwamm.

A patent foramen ovale, or “a hole in the heart.” When a baby takes its first breath, a passageway between the left side and right side of the heart is supposed to close. In about 25 percent of people, it remains open. In some of these people, the hole can raise the odds of stroke.

Small blood clots normally get swept into the lungs, where they are cleared. People with a P.F.O. may have a blood clot that instead crosses the heart and is swept to the brain.

A blood clot the size of a pencil tip can kill, Dr. Schwamm said. But unless a P.F.O. causes a nonfatal stroke, doctors do not close it; it doesn’t cause problems, and most people never even know they have it.

Blood clots. Some people, usually because they have a genetic mutation, are prone to developing blood clots that can travel to the brain.

A heart defect or rhythm disturbance. A structural heart defect can be caused by various things, such as damage from a previous massive heart attack. As a result, clots can form inside the heart and be ejected into the bloodstream and enter the brain.

Clots also can form because a person has a heart rhythm disturbance such as atrial fibrillation.

Artery narrowing. Some drugs can make arteries suddenly close, cutting off blood to the brain. In younger patients, this narrowing often is caused by the use of stimulants or drugs that interfere with the neurotransmitter serotonin.

An aneurysm or an arteriovenous malformation. An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in a blood vessel. An arteriovenous malformation is a tangle of blood vessels containing arteries and veins.

When either is present, a vessel in the brain can suddenly burst, flooding the tissue with blood and causing a stroke.

Sometimes these problematic blood vessels cause symptoms such as minor seizures, Dr. Wechsler said. In those situations, neurologists may intervene and try to remove them.

But many people never know they have an underlying problem until they suffer a brain hemorrhage.


This article originally appeared on NYTimes.com

genetics and stroke

Is there a genetic factor to strokes?

Having a stroke can be a difficult time in anyone’s life. While it is not always easy to determine just what may cause someone to suffer a devastating stroke, experts believe there is a genetic component regarding the risk factors that can lead to this medical event. The following is an overview of how you can reduce your risk of suffering a serious stroke.

High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Stroke

Many people have a family history of hypertension which is also known as high blood pressure. If anyone in your immediate family has this condition, it can raise your risk of suffering strokes or life-threatening blood clots.

Obesity Can Lead to Stroke

Being overweight can also raise your risk of heart related problems. If you have a family history of obesity, you can reduce your risk by taking steps to lose weight and keep it within normal limits.

High Blood Cholesterol

High cholesterol can be hereditary and a precursor to strokes. If you have not had a recent cholesterol screening, now is the time to do it so you can take steps to reduce it if necessary. High cholesterol can cause blood to thicken and lead to blood clots as well as strokes.

Stroke and Effects of Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you know how important it is to eat a healthy diet. Keeping your blood sugar steady will enhance your health and keep the risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots at bay.

Lifestyle Choices Impact Likelihood of Stroke

There are some lifestyle choices that can raise your risk of having serious strokes. Some things you can do now to prevent health problems are:

  • Quit Smoking
  • Eat A Healthy Diet
  • Exercise Most Days Of The Week
  • Lose Weight

Stroke Risk Factors

There are certain things that increase your risk of strokes. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Being Over 55 Years Old
  • Having A Family History Of Strokes
  • Being A Woman
  • Being African American
  • Having A History Of Prior Strokes

If you have a family history of strokes, it is important to schedule regular physicals and checkups with your physician to determine how you can reduce your risk of suffering one yourself. This is especially important if you have had strokes previously, as this may increase your risk significantly. Taking the time to eat right, see your doctor and exercise can help reduce your risk of strokes even if you have a family history of the condition.

heart-health

Early Care Reduces Chance of Stroke in Patients With Irregular Heart Rhythms

Heart problems have been a concern in American society for decades now. Many scientists and researchers are looking to find new ways to prevent both strokes and heart attacks from occurring. A group of researchers at Stanford University found that providing cardiology care for AFIB patients at an early age decreased the chance of a stroke rather than providing the care at a later age. This is mainly due to the fact that doctors can prescribe anticoagulants, or blood thinners. These blood thinners reduce the body’s chance of forming blood clots, potentially leading to a stroke in the future.

As we all know, the heart is supposed to beat in consistent heart rhythms, keeping us alive by managing blood flow throughout the body. However, sometimes this rhythm can be thrown off as we age, possibly due to other underlying problems that haven’t been diagnosed. This ultimately causes an irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a fairly common problem in America with more that 200,000 cases diagnosed per year in the U.S. alone. Also known as A-fib, this condition occurs when there is an irregular heartbeat and the heart is out of sync. As a result of the heart beating chaotically, there is poor blood flow throughout the body. A-fib can also be known as arrhythmia. In the medical field, there are two types of arrhythmia: tachycardia and bradycardia. Tachycardia is an excessive heart rate that exceeds 100 beats per minute while bradycardia is a condition when the heart is lower than 60 beats per minute. As you may have guessed, strokes and death decreased when the A-fib patients went to a cardiologists. The decline of strokes and deaths can also be attributed to the anticoagulants that the cardiologists prescribed the patients. This is one of the main reasons that early care is so important!

As previously stated, it’s best if heart complications are diagnosed relatively early. Symptoms of dangerous heart conditions include muscle failure, chest pain, numbness of the face, and many more. These conditions can be caused by many things including high blood pressure, smoking, degenerative stress, diabetes, and genetics. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to see a doctor or your family physician as soon as possible. If it is in fact a heart condition, your doctor will most likely send you to a cardiologist. The cardiologist will then determine which medical option suits you best for your type of condition.

Even though we can’t pick our genetics, we can certainly reduce the risk of developing irregular heart beats that will lead to strokes in the future. In fact, a lot of these are simple lifestyle changes that you and I can implement immediately. The most important lifestyle change would have to be diet, for we are what we eat. High cholesterol foods like burgers and fries should be avoided as much as possible. Instead, go with a heart healthy option like some blueberries or salmon. Cardiovascular exercise and proactive cardiovascular risk assessments have also been shown to reduce strokes. You should make it a daily goal to exercise at least 30 minutes a day with cardio being your go to exercise. Cardio has also been shown to keep the pounds off, another condition associated with strokes. Also, avoid smoking at all costs as this not only affects the heart but dramatically increases your chances of developing lung cancer. In the end, decrease stress in your life as much as possible. This can be as simple as meditating once a day. In the end, strokes can be prevented. Implementing these lifestyle changes can be the best choice you can make. However, if you ever do find yourself experiencing these signs, receive medical attention immediately. The earlier you get treated, the better off you’ll be.