Stroke prevention key, especially in 'Stroke Belt' of Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Chief of Neurology at Ben Taub Hospital says Houston is part of the so-called "Stroke Belt." That's the description for an area of the country where the population suffers a higher rate of stroke. It stretches part of the southeastern United States.

ABC13 Eyewitness News sat down with Dr. Joseph Kass following the surprising death of actor Luke Perry. The celebrity lost his life at 52 years old. Reports say he suffered a massive stroke.

RELATED: Luke Perry dies at age 52 days after suffering massive stroke

Dr. Kass said we often associate stroke with the elderly. That's not the case anymore. He said they are seeing more people in their 50s, 40s, and even 30s suffer strokes.

Dr. Kass stressed prevention is key. He said paying close attention to ongoing health issues, especially high blood pressure, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol, can help reduce your chances of suffering a stroke.

"Stroke has been climbing in the younger to middle age population," remarked Dr. Kass.

Sonja Lancaster is a stroke survivor. She suffered a stroke in summer of 2018 at the age of 53. Lancaster sat down with ABC13 to talk about her road to recovery. She said she still dreams of becoming a registered nurse. She isn't going to let a stroke stop her.

"I felt like the bottom had been snatched from under me. Of course, I never experienced a brain bleed. I knew something was wrong," said Lancaster. "I had to learn how to walk again. I'm still undergoing speech therapy. I had to learn how to talk. It's been challenging but doable. I had to dig deep inside of me. At one point, I wanted to throw in the towel. You have to dig deep and rely on your faith."

Medical professionals say you seek immediate attention if you suffer face drooping, arm weakness, or speech difficulty. Time is of the essence when it comes to treatment.

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