Strokes: Age not always a factor, Miami Valley doctor says

Actor Luke Perry’s death is sparking a conversation.

His publicist says the star’s problem was in his brain. The 52-year-old had a stroke last week.

Local doctors are saying that having a stroke at a young age isn’t as uncommon as you might think.

Here in Dayton, Mrs. Ohio America is working to get back to her old self after suffering a stroke six months after being crowned.

“I knew something was immediately wrong,” said Jeri Ward. “I went to tell my husband that something was wrong, but I could not move or talk at all.”

After a few seconds, Ward said she could move again, but when she then tried to talk to her husband, she couldn’t speak properly.

“My words were jumbled up and they did not make any sense at all and I knew that but I could not fix it,” she said.

Ward went to the hospital immediately, but four months later she’s still recovering.

“I was not able to talk at all for two weeks,” she said. “I lost all my voice and all ability to read and write and spell. I have spent the last four months learning how to to do that all over again.”

Ward found it “ironic” that she lost her voice considering her platform as Mrs. Ohio America.

“Being crowned was very important to me because I had worked in opioid crisis epidemic that we have here in Ohio,” she said. “So it was very important for me to be an advocate for those who couldn't speak.”

At 30 years old, Ward knows that young age doesn’t mean you can’t have a stroke.

“I think it’s important to remember that if you have blood, you can have a stroke,” Ward said. “It just takes having one blood clot.”

Ward’s doctor, Akil Patel with Kettering Medical Center, said he’s treated several young and healthy stroke patients in the last few months.

“It can absolutely happen to anyone of any age,” he said.

Getting medical attention right away is key when you see the signs of a stroke, Patel explained.

Symptoms include weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, asymmetry in facial muscles and confusion.

“It was terrifying,” Ward said of her stroke.

While she’s getting ready to give up her Mrs. Ohio America crown in April, Ward considers herself lucky.

“I may have a little bit more of a disability now, but we do not all survive these,” she said.

Ward said her doctors expect her to get close to a full recovery in eight to nine months.

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