Aaron Sorkin reveals recent stroke diagnosis to inspire smokers to quit: Symptoms to know
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin recently spoke about his stroke recovery in the hope that it will inspired people to stop smoking.
During an interview with The New York Times to discuss his latest project — a Broadway musical revival of “Camelot” based on a book he rewrote — Sorkin mentioned that it’s now harder for him to write by hand.
Later, he shared more details about his health scare.
“We focus on how important it is to act when folks experience symptoms of stroke,” Dr. Christina Wilson, neurologist and chief of the vascular division at the University of Florida Health in Gainesville, Florida, told Fox News Digital.
“However, we should also make sure people are aware that the long-term effects of smoking can lead to more than heart attacks,” said Wilson. “Smoking doubles your risk of stroke, and even passive exposure to smoke in your environment increases the likelihood you will have a stroke.”
Sorkin has shared that he was a longtime smoker before experiencing his stroke.
A stroke, or brain attack, occurs when an artery that supplies blood to the brain either gets blocked or ruptures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When a blood clot blocks an artery within the brain, it leads to an ischemic stroke.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery within the brain bursts, per the CDC.
The brain is essential to all the body’s core functions, including movement, emotion, breathing and digestion. To function correctly, it needs oxygen-rich blood, which is delivered through the arteries.
“If something happens to block the flow of blood, brain cells start to die within minutes because they can’t get oxygen,” the CDC noted.
“This causes a stroke.”
Two months before rehearsals for “Camelot” last November, Sorkin woke up in the middle of the night only to start crashing into walls as he walked into the kitchen.
The 61-year-old initially shrugged off the symptom — but he knew something was wrong the next morning when he kept spilling his orange juice on the way to his home office.
Sorkin called his doctor, who instructed him to get examined right away.
It turned out his blood pressure was so high that his doctor told him, “You’re supposed to be dead.”
He was later diagnosed with an acute stroke.
Experts say it’s critical to recognize stroke symptoms and take action immediately.
“Time lost is brain lost,” the CDC states on its website. “Every minute counts.”
The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, encourages people to remember the acronym “F.A.S.T” to recognize stroke symptoms.
F – Facial drooping: Does the patient have an asymmetrical smile or does one side of the face feel numb?
A – Arm weakness: Does one arm suddenly feel weaker than the other?
S – Speech difficulty (slurring)
T – Time to call 911
Someone who is experiencing stroke symptoms should call 911 right away for help.
For a month after his stroke, Sorkin was slurring his speech, had difficulty typing and was not able to sign his name, he revealed.
He was worried that he would never write again.
But most of these symptoms have now resolved, he said, except for a continued lack of ability to taste food.
Sorkin emphasized in The Times interview that he’s “fine” now and is able to work.
One of the biggest changes the Academy Award winner made in his life was to quit smoking.
Sorkin used to smoke about two packs a day since high school — and he said the habit was intertwined with his writing.
“Quitting tobacco can be hard, but is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health,” Dr. Wilson said.
Even secondhand smoke raises the risk of stroke by 20% to 30%, according to the CDC.
In addition to quitting smoking, Sorkin also started to eat a more nutritious diet — and began working out daily.
“If it’ll get one person to stop smoking, then it’ll be helpful,” Sorkin told The New York Times.