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The information provided on the show is for general information purposes only. If you have a health problem, medical emergency, or a general health question, you should contact a physician or other qualified health care provider for consultation, diagnosis and/or treatment. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-diagnosis or treatment based on anything you have seen on the show.

Following the death of actor Luke Perry on Monday from a stroke, Emergency Room Physician, Dr. Brett Belchetz shared important information with Your Morning, about the disease and how to be prepared in case it happens to you or a loved one.

 

What is a stroke

A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain is cut off; resulting in brain cells losing the oxygen it needs to stay alive. When brain cells die during a stroke, the biggest impact is felt in the part of the brain that controls abilities like memory and muscle control. There are two types of strokes:

Ischemic stroke

  • Occurs when blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot
  • More common
  • Symptoms include loss of sensation, loss of balance, difficulty speaking and paralysis on one side of the body
  • Can be treated with clot busting drugs that break up blood clots, this only works if it is given a few hours after stroke symptoms appear

Hemorrhagic stroke

  • Occurs when a blood vessel bursts or a weakened blood vessel leaks
  • Symptoms include a headache, loss of consciousness or paralysis on one side of the body

Factors that can lead to a stroke

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Serious injuries and cocaine usage (for younger patients)

There are some foreboding signs, however. If you are noticing short bursts of vision loss or parts of your body are going numb, these “mini strokes” are telling you that you’re at risk of a big stroke down the line. If this is the case, Dr. Belchetz says if any of these signs occur, get yourself to a doctor right away. They can perform tests to see how much risk you have of a stroke and may even prevent it.

Warning signs

Face- is it drooping?
Arms- can you lift them?
Speech- are you slurring?
Time- Call 911 immediately

When it comes to Perry however, Dr. Belchetz says a fatal stroke like this one is very rare, in young people. The patient is usually able to make some recovery, afterwards.
Also, when a patient is having a stroke, one of the ignored symptoms include impaired reasoning. This means that when someone is in the midst of a stroke, they aren’t able to realize something is wrong with them and call for help.

Dr. Belchetz says if there’s anything you can do to prevent a stroke from happening, start living a healthy lifestyle, exercise and don’t smoke.

Look out for symptoms and don’t wait. The longer you delay treatment for a heart attack or stroke, the more difficult it becomes to reverse the damage.