Strokes, known as strokes, are often associated with older adults, but according to recent figures, One in four of them affects young adults.
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A stroke occurs when there is a sudden interruption in the brain’s blood supply, and it usually results from a total or partial blockage of arteries due to the accumulation of fat or cholesterol, but there are other related causes, such as stress and other neurological causes that can cut off the oxygenation of the brain.
The BBC spoke to three young survivors who decided to share their stories to help raise awareness of the disease.
“It can happen to any of us at any stage of life.”
Kylie Trainor was 27 years old when she had a “totally unexpected” stroke.
“I woke up and was getting ready for work when I looked in the mirror and realized my face was down.”
“I didn’t mind and I went to work, and only when I got there other people asked me if I was okay.”
Kylie Trainor says she couldn’t believe it when she heard she had a stroke. Photo: Kylie Trainor via BBC
“I went to the pharmacy thinking I had an allergy, but the pharmacist was very worried and told me to go to the emergency room,” says Kylie.
The teacher, who lives in Harlow, in the London metropolitan area, went to the hospital “thinking everything was an exaggeration” and “apologizing for wasting everyone’s time.”
But she was shocked by what she heard from the doctors.
“They recognized me right away, and they started observing and doing tests. Finally, they told me that I had a stroke,” she says, now 32.
“I couldn’t believe it because, to me, I felt so good. I always associated a stroke with older people, and I thought I couldn’t have it.”
“You think you are immune to these things, but it can happen to any of us at any stage of life,” she adds.
Ten days later, she came home to recover from a stroke in November 2015.
Kylie says she has not had any symptoms since then, and doctors never know the cause of her stroke.
Her grandfather had already had a stroke and doctors said it might have been caused by the stress, but there was nothing “they could point to to find out the cause.”
Kylie, who recently raised £ 1,400 for the Stroke Association, an NGO that supports stroke victims, and walks 1.2 million steps over 120 days, says there is a need to be more aware of the risks young people are exposed to.
She says, “I tell my students at school that I had a stroke and they say ‘No, you don’t have it, the elderly suffer from it’ and I tell them that anyone can have a stroke.”
Three different doctors thought I had a migraine
Daniel Payne has always been “fit and healthy” and has represented his university in athletics.
But when he was 23 years old, when he was working in the procurement department of a London company, he began to suffer from sudden loss of vision in one eye.
Daniel Payne, who was pictured with his dog Oli, had a stroke at the age of 23.- Photo: Daniel Payne via BBC
He says he felt “very weird” and had a throbbing sensation in his right arm – but he didn’t experience any of the classic symptoms of a stroke, such as slurred speech or slouching of the face.
Payne knew something was wrong, so he went to see three doctors, but they all thought he had a migraine.
Still feeling unwell and losing control of his right hand, he went to the hospital, where there were no signs of a stroke, including a CT scan.
It was only after he had an MRI that the doctors realized what had happened to him.
“They were like, ‘Why would I have a stroke when you are fit, healthy and at your age,’ so the investigations started,” he says.
Doctors found that he had a large hole in his heart that was believed to have caused the stroke.
He had to undergo surgery to close the hole and spent more than a week in the hospital.
Pine says she suffered from panic attacks and anxiety after her stroke. He had to do the out-of-pocket treatment.
The young man still wears special glasses to improve his eyesight. His girlfriend, Laura McDonnell, a physiotherapist, helped him regain control of his right hand.
Now 26, he says he’s feeling better. Pine started volunteering at the NGO Different Strokes in 2019 to help support other youths who have had a stroke.
“When people think of strokes, they imagine old people and all the support available when I had it was for people over the age of 60,” he says.
“It is completely different for a young person to have a stroke, they are waiting for their whole lives and it can completely change their life plans.
“It’s horrible to have an older person, but it is a completely different set of circumstances for a younger person.”
After I had a stroke, I became the sick girl in school
Elizabeth Case was only 13 years old when she had a stroke.
It was his cousin’s wedding day and the family was preparing to celebrate the special day.
“It was very hectic for everyone,” he says.
Elizabeth Case, now 20, had a stroke seven years ago. Photo: Elizabeth Kiss from the BBC
Now, at twenty years old, she remembers her mother suspected she had a stroke “immediately, because my tongue was crooked and the left side of my face was falling off.”
“I told the doctors it was a stroke, but they didn’t give it much importance because of my age, they thought it was just a migraine,” he says.
But tests showed that Elizabeth had a stroke and underwent surgery to save her life.
She underwent heart surgery when she was 8 years old and suffered from migraines that are believed to have caused a stroke.
Elizabeth is paralyzed on her left side, and although she now has movement in her shoulder and elbow, the use of her left hand and fingers is still limited. Seven years later, she still has weakness in her left leg.
You suffer from depression and anxiety which you think is related to stroke.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke
One in four strokes in the UK occur in people under the age of 65, according to a different stroke NGO. In Brazil, according to the Ministry of Health, the number of strokes among young people has also increased.
To identify who you are, people should use the acronym FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) as a simple test:
- Face – Has the face fallen off to one side? Can you smile?
- Arms – Can you raise and lift both arms?
- Speech – Is Your Speech Affected?
- Time – If so, it is time to call the emergency service.
Other symptoms of stroke include sudden loss of vision, sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, sudden memory loss or confusion, sudden dizziness or instability, or sudden falls.
Elizabeth says having a stroke as a teenager was a “learning curve” for her teachers as well as for her family, because they “didn’t know how to treat me.”
She also had difficulty making friends.
“I had a hard time making friends, couldn’t do all the things a teenager would normally do and no one knew how to treat me.”
“People were very nice or weird. I lost friends because sometimes I needed a lot of help,” he says.
The stroke also prevented her from practicing her sports and usual activities.
Before I had a stroke, I was known as the “popular” girl, but after that I became the “sick girl.”
“Life was full before, but I was depressed and people were acting weird around me.”
“Now I will return to being the happy person I was before.”
Elizabeth, who still makes annual visits to the hospital, says she wants to raise awareness that strokes can happen to young adults.
“It’s horrific that people don’t realize that,” she says.
“The fact that the doctors didn’t realize I had a stroke made me want to raise awareness even more.”
“I don’t want others to experience what I’ve been through.”
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