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'Hercules' Star Kevin Sorbo Knows Stroke Strikes the Young

MONDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- If Hercules can have a stroke, it means anyone can have one.

Kevin Sorbo, who starred in the television series Hercules, was only 38 when he suffered three strokes. It was a difficult way to learn that a stroke can strike anyone at any time.

Sorbo shared his story as a way to boost stroke awareness on World Stroke Day, Oct. 29.

The strokes occurred 15 years ago, in 1997, but Sorbo has only recently talked about them publicly.

"Like my character, Hercules, I thought I was invincible," Sorbo said in an American Heart Association/American Stroke Association news release. "There are many myths and misconceptions about stroke. As a survivor, I have learned that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable."

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability. But knowing the warning signs of stroke leads to quick treatment that reduces the risk of death or disability.

Even though 795,000 Americans have a stroke each year, only 63 percent of adults can name one or more stroke warning signs, according to a 2011 American Stroke Association survey.

The association says an easy way to recognize the sudden signs of stroke is to remember F.A.S.T.:

  • Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like: "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.

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