How to recognize when a loved one is having a stroke

RICHMOND, Va. -- The death of 52-year-old actor Luke Perry has served as a sobering reminder that stroke can affect anyone.

"A stroke is a brain injury caused by a problem with a blood vessel with the vascular system," Dr. Alan Schulman, a neurologist at Henrico Doctors' Hospital, said.

While stroke is one of the top five killers in America, knowing the symptoms can be a lifesaver.

Remember the acronym "BE FAST."

Balance - Is the person losing balance?
Eyes - Are they losing eyesight?
Face - Is their face drooping?
Arms - Do they have arm weakness?
Speech - Is their speech slurred?
Time - Call 9-1-1 now!

Even if someone survives a stroke they can lose memories, speech, and motor functions. While it's difficult to impossible to predict a stroke, there are some things you can do to help prevent them.

"Treating hypertension is a major one, since that's a major cause of stroke," Dr. Schulman said. "Other things include exercise, treating cholesterol, and staying fit in general, we think, all help."

He also suggested quitting smoking, if you smoke.

Knowing the symptoms, getting treatment quickly and living a healthier lifestyle has helped save thousands of stroke victims every year.

Working For Your Health is a partnership with HCA Healthcare. Serving the greater Richmond area, Chippenham, Henrico Doctors’, Johnston-Willis, Parham Doctors’, and Retreat Doctors’ Hospital are part of HCA Virginia. Watch for Working For Your Health reports Tuesdays on CBS 6 News at 7 p.m.

Watch for Working For Your Health reports on CBS 6.

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