Dick Clark was a mentor to hundreds of young singers and bands vying for publicity and the “big break” that he provided on “American Bandstand.” To others, he provided hope and inspiration during his courageous effort to recover from a devastating stroke in 2004. Friendly and affable, he remained in the spotlight until his death, last week, from a massive heart attack.

Dick Clark was a mentor to hundreds of young singers and bands vying for publicity and the “big break” that he provided on “American Bandstand.” To others, he provided hope and inspiration during his courageous effort to recover from a devastating stroke in 2004. Friendly and affable, he remained in the spotlight until his death, last week, from a massive heart attack.

Stroke and vascular health, what do you know? T or F?

1. About 500,000 people have strokes annually.

2. Actor Sharon Stone has had a stroke.

3. Eating red meat can help decrease risk for stroke.

The CDC at www.cdc.gov/features/stroke, reports that about 800,000 suffer strokes annually, about 600,000 of those are in friends and neighbors with no prior stroke. Approximately 25 percent occur in those younger than 65. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It is one of the leading causes of disability after age 65. Those are the data on stroke. Dick Clark is one of the faces of stroke.

When we talk about stroke and heart health, what we are really discussing is blood vessel health. Take care of your blood vessels and they will take care of you. Risk factors for vascular disease include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, alcohol consumption (more than two drinks daily) poor diet and smoking. Blood vessels, made of layers of tissue like the covering on wires, are vulnerable to changes in blood pressure, fat and calcium deposits and inflammation. Blood clots formed in legs can travel to lungs, causing strokes of the pulmonary vessels, also called pulmonary embolism. Clots also can travel to blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrients to the brain causing cerebral stroke. Clots in cardiac vessels supplying the heart muscle can lead to heart attack or “heart stroke,” (a descriptive term I just made up).

Clark’s widespread vascular disease was likely caused from his much publicized diabetes. Some diseases, including diabetes and hypertension, and diet high in fat and refined sugar, promote inflammation of blood vessels. Inflammation is increasingly being cited as a factor in the development of vascular disease.  

Colorful fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in anti-oxidants and are anti-inflammatory. If you, “eat colors” you are likely eating anti-oxidants. The typical American lunch of burger and fries is drab brown and low in anti-oxidants. Diet supplements such as fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids are antioxidants. Red meat is considered pro-inflammatory and not recommended for vascular health. Exercise with elevated heart rate 30 minutes daily.

Modern medicine, with advanced technologies to detect and treat stroke, and medications to preserve blood vessels, has allowed stroke survivors the opportunity to return to productive lives.

Dick Clark was living example of what medicine can provide. But medicine cannot provide will and strength and courage – the bravery to return to the camera in front of millions on TV and in Times Square. That is what America’s Oldest Teenager provided from the time of his stroke at age 74 until his death at age 82.

So long, Mr. Clark.  



Answers: 1.F;  2.T;  3.F