Luke Perry's Cause Of Death Explained

Many know of Luke Perry from his role on "Beverly Hills 90210" while others may know him for his brief yet memorable role in the 1997 film "The Fifth Element." Still others may know him from the hit show "Riverdale," which Perry was filming in Los Angeles at the time of his death. His work spanned decades and genres, and he possessed skills and humility that remain his legacy to this day.

Perry's death shocked fans and colleagues alike. As Yahoo reported at the time, Perry's cause of death was an "ischemic cerebrovascular accident." The publication further revealed that "there were no underlying causes listed as contributing to his death, according to the death certificate." Though he was rushed to the hospital on February 27, 2019, there was little doctors could do. The actor died five days later, on March 4, 2021, after being taken off life support.

Luke Perry's legacy endures

Luke Perry's final two projects, "Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood" and "Riverdale," have both gone on to win acclaim. The actor's family ensured that he was laid to rest in Dickson, Tennessee, where he lived when he wasn't filming. And it is in Dickson, Tennessee that some of the actor's most impressive work was done. When the area flooded in 2010, Yahoo reported, Perry was there to hand out supplies no matter the weather. Locals remember him as a kind man who was always quick with a smile and a kind word.

It is a perception of the actor shared by the family he left behind. His son and daughter both honored him in their own ways and both committed themselves to living the kind of life Perry had wanted for them. His fiancée, Wendy Madison Bauer, gave a statement to ET shortly after Perry's death. In it, she thanked everyone for their support and love during the painful and sudden loss of her partner for more than a decade. Sadly, many people lose loved ones to the same condition that took Perry's life, and his death shines a light on this reality.

What is an ischemic cerebrovascular accident?

As Yahoo reported, ischemic cerebrovascular accidents, aka ischemic strokes, are the most common kind of stroke. According to the American Stroke Association, roughly 87% of all strokes are ischemic. The Association explained that ischemic strokes occur when blood clots form and then find their way to the arteries of the brain. Once there, they block blood flow to the brain, resulting in a stroke.

Ischemic strokes can be broken down into two subtypes, according to Johns Hopkins. The first type is thrombotic stroke. "These are caused by a blood clot that develops in the blood vessels inside the brain," the site explained. The second type is embolic stroke. "These are caused by a blood clot or plaque debris that develops elsewhere in the body and then travels to one of the blood vessels in the brain through the bloodstream," Johns Hopkins detailed.

Strokes sometimes occur with little to no warning; however, strokes can often be prevented by making lifestyle changes (via NHS).

Risk factors for stroke

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the leading cause of death in men and the third leading cause of death in women, as well as a leading cause of chronic disability for those who survive the event.

There are many different factors that can put people at risk of a stroke. The CDC outlines many of them on its website. These include sickle cell disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is also known as a "mini-stroke."

Lifestyle factors can also affect a person's risk level. A sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet both increase a person's risk of not only stroke but also the underlying conditions that can lead to a stroke such as diabetes and heart disease. Tobacco use, secondhand smoke, excessive drinking, and obesity are additional factors.

Symptoms of a stroke

Addressing possible risk factors is a good way to lower a person's risk of stroke. But just as important is an awareness of a stroke's symptoms. The American Stroke Association says that noticing the onset of symptoms and quickly seeking medical help can increase a person's chances of surviving their stroke.

According to the CDC, stroke symptoms often appear suddenly. Such symptoms include slurred or sluggish speech and trouble understanding the speech of others as well as general confusion. Numbness or weakness in the face or extremities is also common, specifically on one side of the body. Many people experience vision issues in one or both eyes and may suffer a severe headache.

Finally, stroke can cause people to lose their balance, struggle to walk, suffer reduced coordination, or experience vertigo. Not all stroke patients experience all of these symptoms. It is often a mix unique to each patient.

Possible interventions

According to the American Stroke Association, there are two main methods by which doctors can remove clots from the brain. One of these involves the introduction of a specific drug, while the other is a mechanical intervention, which is often followed by the same drug.

The drug in question is called a tissue plasminogen activator, or r-tPA, which is known more simply as alteplase. It is administered through an IV, then flows through the bloodstream and targets the plaque that makes up the blood clot. Alteplase then breaks it down, restoring blood flow to the brain.

In some cases, the doctor will decide that a mechanical intervention is needed. When this happens, the doctor will attach a stent retriever catheter to a long cable. This cable is then threaded into the major artery near the groin which it follows up to the brain. The stent retriever then grabs the clot and removes it to restore blood flow. This approach is often paired with alteplase to ensure the blockage is fully removed.