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Are You Too Young to Have a Stroke?

Strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death for adults in the United States and the number-one cause of disability. (creative commons/c la ms)
Strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death for adults in the United States and the number-one cause of disability. (creative commons/c la ms)
May 7, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa nurse says the recent deaths of two Hollywood celebrities in their 50s from stroke should be a wake-up call for those who think they're too young to worry.

Victoria Borges with Methodist Medical Center said she became a champion for stroke prevention after her mother died of heart disease when she was 17 years old. In her practice, Borges said she's seen people as young as 18 and as old as 98 treated for stroke.

"It can happen to anybody that is not of ideal weight, that smokes, that has those risk factors - sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure - any of those things makes people at risk,” Borges said. “It doesn't matter what age you are."

Fifty-one year-old movie director John Singleton and actor Luke Perry, age 52, both died from strokes in the past two months.

May is American Stroke Month, and the American Heart Association of Iowa reminds residents that 80% of strokes are preventable. To learn what your numbers should be, go to heart.org/bloodpressure.

Borges said "FAST" is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of stroke: face drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulty. She added the "T" in FAST, which stands for "time", is critical for a positive outcome.

"If any of your loved ones, or anybody you know, is experiencing these symptoms, get to the hospital immediately so we can treat their stroke as fast as possible,” she said.

In May alone, some 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke, with many unaware that they were even at risk. High blood pressure is the biggest factor, but of the 116 million people in the U.S. who have high blood pressure, fewer than 50% have it under control. At the same time, lowering blood pressure by 20 points can cut your risk for stroke by half.

Disclosure: American Heart Association of Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Smoking Prevention, Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA