Skip to main content UVA Health logo of UVA Health
Healthy Balance

Stroke In Young Adults: Nobody is Too Young

a young woman experiencing a headache, possibly a stroke symptom
Stroke can happen at any age, so be sure you know the symptoms.

Former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Luke Perry died from a massive stroke on March 4, 2019. Amongst the tributes, many people asked the same question: “Wasn’t he too young to die from a stroke?” Or “Can young adults even have a stroke?”

Perry was 52. According to the CDC, while your stroke risk increases with age, 34 percent of people hospitalized for stroke in 2009 were younger than 65.

Each year, nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. experience a new or recurrent stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. Recent research shows an uptick in the number of strokes in young adults between the ages of 35 to 44.

The reason? Research points to the rise in conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which are some of the leading risks factors for stroke.

We don’t know what caused Perry’s stroke. But the takeaway: it’s never too soon to focus on stroke prevention. A healthy diet and exercise play a critical role in preventing stroke, as well as cardiovascular disease.

Stroke Care at UVA

Virginia has just 3 Joint Commission-certified Comprehensive Stroke Centers, and we’re one of them. Learn more about stroke care at UVA.

Recognizing Stroke Symptoms: Minutes Matter

When it comes to stroke diagnosis and treatment, timing is everything. Stroke interrupts blood flow to the brain and deprives it of oxygen, resulting in the loss of around two million neurons per minute, according to vascular neurologist Nicole Chiota-McCollum, MD. So the sooner you receive treatment, the less damage will be done to the brain and the higher your chances of a complete recovery.

This is why it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of stroke and know how to respond. A key phrase to remember is BEFAST:

for a loss of balance or coordination

E for eyes — double vision or lack of vision in one eye

F for face drooping

A for arm weakness

Suspect a Stroke?

If you see stroke symptoms, call 911 right away.

S for speech difficulty

T for time to call 911

By educating yourself on these common signs, you can help ensure that you or your loved one gets the right treatment at the right time.

We originally published this in 2017 and updated it in March 2019. 

Reply & View Comments Search Submit

Subscribe for Updates

Get stories & health tips every week