MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Actor Luke Perry died Monday morning after suffering a major stroke last week. The actor first made a name for himself on the popular ’90s show “Beverly Hills 90210.”

Perry suffered what doctors call a massive stroke at his California home last Wednesday. He was hospitalized but never recovered. Perry died with his family by his side, including his two children.

Word of Perry’s massive stroke had many wondering what the risk factors and warning signs are; phones were ringing steadily at the Minnesota Stroke Association office in Roseville. Bradley Donaldson says whenever a celebrity succumbs to stroke, it brings people to want to know risk factors and symptoms that cause stroke.

Doctors at Abbott Northwestern Hospital are being asked the same questions. There are a number of things you should know about what is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

“Those risk factors are other diseases. That’s why prevention stroke prevention is so important, knowing what the factors are — high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, some of these things may be more prominent in people who are overweight,” Abbott Northwestern’s Dr. Ronald Tarrel said.

Strokes do not discriminate, Tarrel added.

“It tends to be a disease of the elderly, but its all about the risk factors, and there is a little bit of genetics that play into it too. But little infants can have strokes, teenagers can have strokes; it’s not limited to any age group,” Tarrel said.

Actually, 34 percent of people hospitalized with stroke are under the age of 65. Tarrel says the acronym “BE FAST” will help you remember symptoms of stroke. Those letters stand for balance, eye movement (or vision loss), facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties, and time.

The most important thing is the last item: time. Strokes can be reversed if medical care is given within the first few hours of having a stroke. Remember, it’s not about pain with stroke, it’s about a loss of function.

The Minnesota Stroke Association helps people and family members of people who have had a stroke with information, advocacy and resources. If you think you are having a stroke or have symptoms, don’t call them, call 911.

Reg Chapman

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