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You’re never too young for a stroke

Two twentysomething survivors share their stories

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

stroke survivors

Erin’s story

“I can’t be having a stroke, can I? I’m too young.”

That was what 27-year-old Erin Gianaras was thinking when she suddenly experienced jumbled speech, loss of balance, blurred vision, facial droop and tingling down her right side while she was alone on an errand.

Erin knew she needed to call 9-1-1, but her impaired symptoms prevented her from making the call for 30 minutes. When Mount Prospect Emergency Medical Services arrived, they took her to the Emergency Department at Northwest Community Hospital. Doctors there determined Erin had a large blood clot in one of the main arteries leading to her brain and gave her the clot-busting tPA (tissue Plasminogen Activator). She was taken for an additional procedure, called a thrombectomy, where the cause of her stroke was determined and the clot was removed, restoring blood supply to her brain.

See the warning signs of stroke.

Emily's story

“Recognizing stroke symptoms and then acting quickly are critically important.”

Emily Beck was 21 years old at the time and participating in a college lab class when she felt as though a baseball bat hit her on the side of her head, followed by a tingling and numbing sensation. The sensation started in her head and traveled to her ears. She also felt a surge of electricity down her right arm.

Emily initially thought she might be experiencing a migraine headache and went home to sleep it off. But the severe headache and an impaired mobility in her hand continued after she woke. So, Emily went to her student health center. Clinicians there also believed she was experiencing migraines. She left with a wrist brace for her hand and a recommendation to see a neurologist if the headaches continued.

The symptoms continued for 1 ½ weeks until Emily turned to Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) for help. NCH physicians made a diagnosis: Emily had experienced a series of mini-ischemic strokes that occurred in the same area of her brain, depriving that area of oxygen.

Although having a stroke before the age of 30 is relatively uncommon, Ali Shaibani, M.D., a neurointerventionalist and medical director of the stroke program at NCH, emphasizes a stroke can happen to anyone.

“Recognizing stroke symptoms and then acting quickly are critically important,” says Dr. Shaibani. “A patient in the throes of a stroke loses two million brain cells a minute. The longer the patient is left untreated, the greater the risk for serious—and permanent—damage to the brain.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of a stroke, act quickly. Call 9-1-1 for immediate transport to the nearest Emergency Department, where doctors can intercede and prevent or minimize damage to the brain. NCH is one of approximately 100 hospitals in the country to be certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.

Learn more about stroke and the highly specialized stroke care at NCH.

F.A.S.T. info stroke
Physicians
  • Ali Shaibani

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