Actor Luke Perry Dies of Stroke at Age 52

News Picture: Actor Luke Perry Dies of Stroke at Age 52

MONDAY, March 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Actor Luke Perry, who shot to fame in the 1990s in the TV series "Beverly Hills, 90210," has died of a stroke at the age of 52.

In a statement, Perry's family said he died Monday after a "massive stroke" suffered last Wednesday, the New York Times reported.

He had been hospitalized since a 911 call on Wednesday brought paramedics to Perry's home in Los Angeles.

The Ohio-born actor had made a recent return to television in the CW Network series "Riverdale," based on the "Archie" comic series. He played Fred Andrews, Archie's father.

However, it was his role as Beverly Hills bad boy Dylan McKay on "90210" that put Perry firmly in the spotlight.

Writer and director Joss Whedon, who worked with Perry on the movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," tweeted that the actor was "Funny, committed, and always gracious. He shouldn't be gone."

Stroke remains the fifth leading killer in the United States. While typically associated with people in their senior years, strokes can also hit people at much younger ages.

"It is more common than one might think," said Dr. Andrew Rogove, who directs stroke services at Northwell Health's Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. "According to the American Stroke Association about 15 percent of strokes occur in adolescents and young adults, and this number is increasing."

And if a stroke does hit in youth or middle age, it's often more lethal, and Rogove explained why.

"As we age our brains shrink," he said. "When a young person has a large stroke, brain swelling occurs and because their brains have not shrunk as much as an older person they have no room in the skull to accommodate this swelling and the brain gets compressed and can lead to death. In an older patient there is more room in the skull to accommodate this swelling."

While it's unclear if Perry had any of the common risk factors for stroke, risks rise if a person smokes, has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, uses illicit drugs or has underlying heart defects. Genetics can also play a big role in stroke risk, Rogove said.

Strokes can be caused either by a clot (the vast majority of cases) or a bleeding hemorrhage. It's not clear which type Perry had.

Quick diagnosis and treatment is crucial in reducing the damage caused by a stroke. According to the stroke association, people should work F.A.S.T. to spot and treat a stroke. Look for:

  • Face drooping. Ask the person to smile -- does the smile look uneven?
  • Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise their arms. Does one arm drift downwards?
  • Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred? Get the person to repeat a simple sentence. If the person displays any of these key signals, it's --
  • Time to call 911.

As Rogove said, "'Time is brain' -- about 1.9 million neurons die each minute of a stroke. It is an emergency, call 911 at signs of stroke as treatment may help stop stroke."

-- E.J. Mundell

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SOURCES: Andrew Rogove, M.D., Ph.D., medical director, Stroke Services, Northwell Health's Southside Hospital, Bay Shore, N.Y.; New York Times; American Stroke Association