Cori Broadus, the daughter of rap legend Snoop Dogg, said via Instagram Stories last month that she’d suffered a “severe stroke.” She did not provide any details about her medical condition, but Broadus is 24 years old, and it is uncommon for people that young to have a stroke.
Broadus has been open about what it’s like living with lupus — an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation to the skin, joints, organs, and blood — and now this stroke is her latest health scare. If a 24-year-old can have a severe stroke seemingly out of nowhere, you may be wondering: Am I at risk?
Facts About Strokes
Strokes are serious medical emergencies, and the most important factor for surviving and recovering is the timeliness of treatment.
“There are two main types. Ischemic strokes are caused by blood flow obstructions, such as blood clots. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by ruptured blood vessels that leak blood into the brain. In both cases, the brain’s supply of blood is disrupted, and the cells within the brain are quickly starved of oxygen. This can lead to permanent brain damage or even be fatal,” explained Dr. Mary Greene, cardiologist and director of Women’s Health at Manhattan Cardiology.
Anyone can have a stroke, but some things increase the likelihood that a person will suffer one. Some of the primary risk factors include smoking, heavy alcohol use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, sickle cell disease, or if you or a close family member has had one before.
Other special considerations include age, sex, and race or ethnicity. If you are 55 years and older, the chance of having a stroke doubles every decade. Strokes are more common in women, and the risk can be increased during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills.
The Risk to African-Americans
The risk of having a stroke is higher for Black people, and the risk of death from a stroke is higher for non-Hispanic Blacks and Pacific Islanders. The risk is particularly higher for Black women because they are more prone to many of the primary risk factors associated with having one.
According to a report by EH Project, 47.3 percent of Black women in the U.S. have some form of heart disease, and they’re 2.4 times more likely to develop heart disease than white women. Black women also have the highest rates of hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and stroke of any ethnicity in U.S. women, with them 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure compared to white women.
These factors are not exclusive. “It’s also possible for someone without any of these risk factors to have a stroke, so knowing the signs is important for everyone,” says Greene.
Broadus has been released from the hospital and is at home recovering. She revealed via her InstaStory that some symptoms she experienced the day before the stroke were blurry vision, nausea, fatigue and “really bad headache pain.” She said that her blood pressure was also extremely high.
Broadus isn’t the only young Black celebrity who has reported suffering a stroke. Rapper and actor Kid Cudi said he had a stroke when he was 32 years old and was hospitalized. The traumatic event resulted in his speech and movements being slowed.
Signs That You’re Having a Stroke and What to Do
To recognize the signs of a stroke, it’s easiest to remember the acronym FAST.
The brain is divided into two halves called hemispheres, and, generally speaking, each hemisphere controls the movements of one half of the body. Depending on where in the brain a stroke occurs, it can often cause motor control issues for one-half of the body. One common sign of this is the drooping of one side of the face.
Greene explains, “If someone is suspected of having a stroke, ask them to smile. If they’re having a stroke, one-half of the smile will often droop and sag, and the corner of the mouth won’t really rise. And frequently, the person having the stroke won’t be aware of this.”
“Another simple test is to ask someone to raise their arms up in the air. If they’re having a stroke, they may find it difficult or impossible to hold up one of their arms, and it will noticeably drift downward,” said Dr. Greene.
Sometimes, the person will not even be able to lift their arm above their own head to begin with.
Speech can be affected during a stroke by a person suddenly not being able to speak. Also, they might be able to form words, but the words are nonsensical or completely random. They may also be able to speak, but it suddenly becomes slurred.
“To check someone’s speech, ask them to recite a simple phrase. It should be something that they would normally have no trouble saying, such as their name, home address, and phone number. If it sounds markedly off, or if they can’t speak at all, they might be having a stroke,” says Dr. Greene.
You have to act immediately. If a person appears to be having a stroke, the most important thing to do is call 911 right away. Sometimes, the symptoms might arise for a few minutes and then go away. This could be a sign of a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke. A TIA is also a serious medical emergency.
“If you ask someone to do the smile test and they seem like they’re having a stroke, just jump straight to 911. [They] don’t have to display facial, arm, and speech symptoms all together in order to be having a stroke,” Greene added.
Never allow someone having a stroke to drive themselves to the emergency room. Calling an ambulance is usually the best option.
“Getting medical attention quickly can be the difference between a full recovery and permanent disability or even death, so don’t take any chances. If someone might be having a stroke, remember to always act FAST,” said Greene.
Preventing a Stroke
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says strokes can be prevented by making healthy choices and controlling any health conditions you may have. You should eat healthy, maintain optimal weight, exercise at least 150 minutes per week, not smoke, and limit alcohol use. To lower your risk of heart disease that can lead to a stroke – control your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.