Seeing that Luke Perry died after having a stroke was an enormously sad thing for me. I remember when Beverly Hills, 90210 first aired. It was a frequent subject at the lunch table in high school. In the wake of his stroke, I’ve seen tons of posts from people who are posting similar things including (sources excluded to protect the innocent):
“Tragic! Strokes can happen to anyone!”
“OMG! You never know who will have a stroke and there’s nothing you can do.”
“Wow, so young! So scary!”
So, yes, there is likely going to be a lot of discussion from this about recognizing a stroke. From what I’ve read though, Luke called for help early on. And yes, recognizing the signs and getting help quickly is critical. That’s not what I want to address here. I will add briefly if you have symptoms like:
slurred speech/numbness of the face, weakness on one side of the body, unusual and severe headache, vision loss, numbness/tingling or, experience unsteadiness walking
please seek medical help, ASAP – especially if you have more than one of those symptoms.
That said, I want to address this idea that there’s nothing you can do about having a stroke. That’s not true at all! There are lots of things that you can do to reduce your risk of having a stroke.
- Stop smoking! For the love of all that is good, please stop smoking. I still see people daily who smoke. I get it. It’s hard to quit. Quitting an addictive substance is no easy feat. But smoking is something that we know does real and severe damage to your body in multiple ways. Don’t do it. Don’t start. Find a good treatment program if you are addicted. Keep trying.
- Lower your blood pressure. Seriously, blood pressure is a big issue. This is another thing that I see daily at work. Take your meds if you need them. Lose weight. Change your diet (especially the salt!). Do what you need to do to get your blood pressure down.
- Exercise more. Again, this has a huge impact on your health in more than one way. Exercise will not only decrease your risk of stroke it can also increase your HDL or “good” cholesterol. Exercise will also decrease your weight and help lower blood pressure. Find 30 minutes a day and go for a walk.
- Change your diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Decrease your salt (again) – if you decrease how often you eat out, your salt intake will likely plummet. Start using low salt items. Use spices to flavor your food instead of salt. Also, increase fruits and vegetables (again!). Order a side salad if you eat out. Make a salad. Roast veggies in the oven. There are so many ways to increase fruit and veggie intake and it will make you healthier.
- Decrease alcohol intake. Optimally, don’t drink at all but if that’s not you just drink less alcohol.
- Finally, treat any medical conditions. Diabetes contributes to your stroke risk. Atrial fibrillation can contribute. Atrial fibrillation is something that a doctor needs to treat with medications. Diabetes can be diet controlled and if you start doing some of the things above, type 2 diabetes (insulin resistant) will start to improve as well.
Honestly, every day, I have the privilege to help people get better when I am at work and I enjoy what I do but I also see people every day that could do a lot to help themselves get better. It’s not easy but it’s far better than the alternatives.
Mourn Luke Perry’s loss. It’s a sad thing to see someone die so young. Get healthier, work towards a better you. One step at a time. See your doctor to get some help. Visit your local gym. Go for a walk. Add a salad a week to your diet.