Everything you need to know about stroke

Actor Luke Perry died yesterday (4 March), after experiencing a stroke last week. In light of the sad news, what are the symptoms to look out for?

While people over the age of 55 are more at risk of having a stroke, anyone can have a stroke at anytime in their life.

The sooner a person receives medical attention for a stroke, the less damage is likely to occur. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke, for yourself, and those around you.


The easiest way to remember the signs of a stroke is with the acronym FAST:

  • Face: the person’s face might have drooped to one side. They may not be able to smile and their mouth or eye might be turned down at the side.
  • Arms: the person may not be able to life one or both arms, due to weakness or numbness.
  • Speech: their speech may be slurred or harder to understand. They might not be able to speak at all, and may have difficulty understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time: if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to call an ambulance.

While these are the most common identifiers of a stroke, it can cause other symptoms, including complete paralysis on one side of the body, loss or blurring of vision, dizziness, problems with balance, and loss of consciousness.


A stroke occurs when blood is unable to get to the brain, meaning it is starved on oxygen and nutrients. When this happens, the brain cells begin to die.

The two main causes of lack of blood supply are:

  • Ischaemic: the blood is prevented from getting to the brain by a blood clot. This accounts for 85 per cent of all strokes.
  • Haemorrhagic: a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain bursts.


Some people are, unfortunately, more at risk of having a stroke. These include people of different ages, ethnicities and people who have certain conditions.

According to Stroke Association, people over the age of 55 are at risk of stroke, as our arteries, which carry blood from the heart to different parts of the body, become harder and narrower as we age.

They also advise that people of South Asian or African or Caribbean origin are at heightened risk of stroke.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or arterial fibrillation, you are also at higher risk of stroke.


It can be hard to know exactly how to prevent a stroke, but certain lifestyle habits are known to increase the risk of having a stroke significantly.

These include smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and eating an unbalanced diet.

The NHS recommends eating healthily, carrying out the recommended weekly amount of exercise, reducing alcohol intake and stopping smoking, to reduce the chances of having a stroke.

It can be hard to know if someone is having a stroke, but if you remember to act FAST, you might save someone’s life.

Stroke Association




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