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Original Wednesday Addams Died of a Stroke—5 Warning Signs to Watch For

The former child actor was only 64 years old when she suffered a "massive stroke."

The Addams Family, the cult-favorite TV show that premiered in 1964, ran for only two seasons. But nearly six decade later, it still looms large in the public imagination thanks to numerous film and TV revivals over the years, the latest of which, Wednesday, is now streaming on Netflix. So it was a shock for many to hear that Lisa Loring, who originally played the role of Wednesday Addams, passed away over the weekend at age 64 following a "massive stroke," as reported by a family friend via Facebook.

The friend, Laurie Jacobson, said the stroke was "brought on by smoking and high blood pressure" and explained that Loring was on life support for three days before "her family made the difficult decision to remove it."

"High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is one of the leading causes of stroke," Dung Trinh, MD, an internal medicine physician and the founder of the Healthy Brain Clinic tells Best Life. "This is because increased pressure can strain your circulatory system and compromise blood flow to the brain. Over time, this can cause blockages or bleeding in the brain that can increase your chances of having a stroke."

Smoking is another leading risk factor for stroke. "When you smoke, the nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes damage the lining of your arteries. This can lead to a buildup of plaque, which narrows and blocks them. Narrowed arteries make it harder for blood to reach your brain, increasing your risk of stroke," says Trinh.

Even if you don't smoke or suffer from high blood pressure, it's vital to know the signs of a stroke, which can happen at any age (actor Aubrey Plaza had one at 20) and even in the absence of obvious risk factors. "Strokes are serious medical emergencies that can have devastating effects," says Trinh. "It is important to be aware of stroke warning signs so that you can take action quickly and avoid further damage if someone close to you experiences one." Read on for five stroke warning signs that experts say call for immediate medical attention.

READ THIS NEXT: Doing This Raises Your Stroke Risk 60 Percent Within an Hour, New Study Finds.

Trouble smiling could mean bigger trouble.

Asian woman having problem with Bell's Palsy/Facial Palsy, hand holding her face
Doucefleur / Shutterstock

"Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body," is a common sign of a stroke, says Trinh. This weakness may manifest as difficulty smiling, such as you might have after getting a shot of novocaine at the dentist's office.

If you experience this, tingling, numbness, or trouble using one arm or leg, it's worth getting immediate medical attention to rule out a stroke.

Confusion is a stroke red flag.

Memory loss due to dementia or brain damage. Side profile of a sad man losing parts of head as symbol of decreased mind function.
pathdoc / Shutterstock

We all struggle to find the right word occasionally, but if you can't form words or process what's being said to you, it could be a warning sign of a stroke. "Sudden confusion or trouble speaking and understanding speech" are often hallmarks of a stroke, says Trinh.

READ THIS NEXT:Doing This at Night Slashes Your Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke by 75 Percent, New Study Says.

Dizziness and loss of coordination should be taken seriously.

 Man hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness,a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway.
BlurryMe / Shutterstock

"Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination" are all warning signs that something isn't right, and should be checked out by a healthcare professional as soon as possible, says Trinh.

Loss of vision in one or both eyes can signal a stroke.

close up of older woman rubbing eyes holding glasses
fizkes / Shutterstock

Many migraine sufferers are familiar with the visual signs that a headache is coming on—seeing an aura, floaters, or a dark spot obscuring your vision often precedes the onset of pain. But loss of vision can also signal a different problem: "Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes" is a common stroke symptom, says Trinh.

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A hemorrhagic stroke causes a sudden, severe headache.

Man with a headache

Trinh says that "A sudden, severe headache with no known cause" is another stroke warning sign to take seriously.

Neurosurgeon Daniel E. Walzman, MD, explains that a bad headache may indicate a hemorrhagic stroke, rather than an ischemic stroke, and explains the difference: "Most strokes are ischemic strokes, and occur when blood flow to the brain is blocked. Another common type is a hemorrhagic stroke, which are often caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm or hypertensive hemorrhage."

"Patients often describe [a hemorrhagic stroke] as the worst headache of their lives," says Walzman. "Regardless of the type of stroke, it's important for the patient to access care as soon as possible for the best outcomes."

Remember this acronym to get help F.A.S.T.

Blurred photo of a woman suffering from headache or stroke
Tunatura / Shutterstock

Kimon Bekelis, MD, who runs the Stroke & Brain Aneurysm Center of Long Island at Good Samaritan Hospital, told Best Life that when caught early, a stroke is often survivable.  "Identifying the signs of stroke early can mean the difference between a full recovery and a significant disability or death," he explains. "When looking for signs remember FAST: Face or Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.

"When caught early, there are multiple medical or minimally invasive surgical procedures available for the treatment of ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke," says Bekelis.

Elizabeth Laura Nelson
Elizabeth Laura Nelson is the Deputy Health Editor at Best Life. A mom and a marathon runner, she’s passionate about all aspects of health and wellness. Read more
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