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Strokes can happen at any age, ER physician Travis Stork says. In fact, as many as 14 percent of ischemic strokes – when the arteries to the brain become narrow or blocked, reducing blood flow – occur in people ages 18 to 45, and the incidence rate is rising, including in younger women.
Merideth was just 38 when she suffered a stroke. The active mother says she exercised regularly, ate a healthy diet and never smoked. However, after dancing the night away at a friend’s wedding, she says she suddenly felt a weird tingling sensation before blacking out. A blood clot had traveled from one of her legs and blocked blood flow to a portion of her brain. Luckily, Merideth survived the incident and joins The Doctors to share her recovery experience.
Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, chief medical officer for Pfizer, explains that Merideth’s experience is not uncommon and says that young people need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke, as well as their risk, in order to avoid a potentially deadly outcome.
“Stroke is a medical emergency,” Dr. Lewis-Hall says. “The longer the blood flow to your brain is interrupted, the more the damage.”
Although young people generally have a greater chance of recovering from a stroke, they still need to act FAST and seek immediate medical treatment if a stroke is suspected.
F – Face: Ask the person to smile and see if one side of the face is drooping.
A – Arm: See if the person can raise both arms or if one arm is weak.
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and see if their speech is slurred or confused.
T – Time: Time is of the essence. Call 911 immediately!
Risk factors for stroke include:
- History of cardiovascular disease
- Family history of stroke
- Irregular heartbeats
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Use of certain prescription medications
- Use of tobacco products, certain illicit drugs, and alcohol
Merideth says the keys to her recovery were patience, positivity, and lots of physical therapy. She adds that rock-climbing, in particular, was a fun and challenging activity that helped her regain strength.
To mark the one-year anniversary of her stroke and the incredible recovery she’s worked so hard for, Merideth says she’ll be running in the 2015 New York City Marathon.
For more information about strokes, visit GetHealthyStayHealthy.com.
Sponsored by Pfizer