'Hercules' Star, Stroke Survivor Kevin Sorbo Urges Stroke Awareness

DALLAS, Oct. 25, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kevin Sorbo, star of the television series "Hercules," was only 38 when he suffered three strokes. That was how he learned anyone can have a stroke.

On World Stroke Day, Oct. 29, he's joining forces with the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, to spread the word about something else he's learned about stroke: In many circumstances, it is beatable.

"Like my character, Hercules, I thought I was invincible," said Sorbo, author of True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life. "There are many myths and misconceptions about stroke. As a survivor, I have learned that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. Through the American Stroke Association, there is help and hope."

Stroke is the second-leading cause of death in the world behind heart disease and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability. In the United States, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies of a stroke every three to four minutes.

Knowing the warning signs can help people get to a hospital quickly to be assessed for a clot-busting drug, which may reduce disability or death from stroke. An easy way to recognize the sudden signs of stroke is to remember F.A.S.T:

  • F - Face Drooping - Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A - Arm Weakness - Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S - 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?
  • T - Time to call 9-1-1 - If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately.

Stroke affects 795,000 Americans annually. Yet in a November 2011 survey commissioned by the American Stroke Association, only 63 percent of adults could name one or more stroke warnings signs. Immediately after exposure to the F.A.S.T. acronym, 87 percent of adults could recall at least one correct sign.

"Stroke is the No. 1 preventable cause of disability," said Ralph Sacco, M.D., past president of the American Heart Association and a member of the World Stroke Organization's Board of Directors. "All Americans should know the stroke risks and work toward ideal cardiovascular health every day to prevent stroke."

An important part of prevention is education, which is why on Oct. 29, World Stroke Day, the American Stroke Association and Sorbo are asking people to post Instagram photos of themselves holding signs that complete the following thought: "Because I Care About Stroke ..." Photos should be tagged #WorldStrokeDay.

To learn more about stroke, the warning signs and to participate in the World Stroke Day Instagram campaign, visit strokeassociation.org/worldstrokeday.

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — America's No. 4 killer and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent, treat and beat stroke. The Dallas-based association was created in 1997 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit strokeassociation.org.

The American Heart Association logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=9940

Media Contacts:

Elisa Ramirez-Johnson, (214) 706-1508, Elisa.Ramirez-Johnso@heart.org

Toiya Honoré, (214) 706-1456, toiya.honore@heart.org