COLORADO SPRINGS – The death of actor Luke Perry is bringing attention to strokes and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Shaye Moskowitz, an Endovascular Neurosurgeon with UCHealth Memorial Hospital said very few people can name the most recognizable symptoms of stroke. That awareness can be deadly because time is critical when a patient is having a stroke.
“The brain is particularly sensitive to the inadequate blood supply and dies very, very quickly,” Dr. Moskowitz said. “The number that we quote is 1.9 million neurons, or brain cells, die every minute that brain is not getting sufficient blood supply and oxygen.”
The hospital uses the acronym “BE FAST” to help people spot the most obvious symptoms of stroke. They include:
- Balance issue
- Eyesight trouble such as blurry or narrow field of vision
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Slurred speech
- Time to call 911
“While stroke can affect anybody, typically it affects an older population,” he said. “There is a difference between younger populations and how they have strokes and older populations how they have strokes.”
Younger patients tend to have what’s known as hemorrhagic strokes where a blood vessel in the brain suddenly bursts. Older patients tend to have ischemic strokes, the more common type of stroke. A blood clot or a build-up of plaque from fatty deposits and cholesterol can block major blood vessels in the brain.
Dr. Moskowitz said the best prevention for an ischemic stroke is taking care of your health.
“There are a variety of risk factors that are all lifestyle driven or in your control that you can control, take care of and modify to reduce your risk of not just stroke, but any vascular disease,” Moskowitz said.
That means watching your blood pressure and checking cholesterol level. Smoking and poor diet can also increase the risk of stroke, as well as family history with blood problems.