ABC News retold a scary story of a 23-years-old student, Kara Jackson, who suffered a stroke while engaging in an intimate act with her boyfriend.
Not knowing that she was in the middle of a life-threatening health problem, she assured her boyfriend she was “OK” although everything in her body was saying the contrary.
Her tongue felt swollen, like a balloon in her throat, blocking her airway … [H]er mouth could not string together the sentence her brain was forming. “My words totally garbled, like I was tripping over my tongue,” she recalls. “I tried again, but I still couldn’t speak. That’s when the panic set in.”
Her reaction to symptoms seemed similar to a person in denial of the worst case senario. Finally she and her boyfriend figured they should call the medics, but they couldn’t:
She felt like crying but couldn’t even do that. As her boyfriend called 911, Kara thought, I should put on some clothes before the medics arrive. But she couldn’t move her left arm. Or stand up.
According to the report, Kara thought she had an allergic reaction, or a “very-weird migraine,” but, in actuality, she had suffered a stroke.
This past fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study showing an alarming rise among young adults in the number of acute ischemic strokes, by far the most common kind, in which the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off due to a blockage. From 1995 to 2008, the number of women ages 15 to 34 who were hospitalized for this type of stroke rose some 23 percent, from 3,750 a year to nearly 4,900. For the next age-group, 35 to 44, hospitalizations jumped 29 percent, from 9,400 a year to nearly 13,400. And a second study found that strokes among 20-to 44-year-old Caucasians (who are generally at lesser risk than African Americans) has more than doubled since 1993.
“This is a significant and scary change,” says Brett Kissela, M.D., a neurology professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and lead author of the latter study.
Stroke is commonly, and justifiably, thought of as a curse for older people: The average stroke victim is 68 years old.
What’s causing its rise among the young is one of the most urgent questions facing the medical community today. “The question is, are we seeing more strokes in young people or are we better at finding them?” asks Kissela.
“My belief is that we’re seeing more strokes. This could prove an expensive and devastating trend for society, as well as for each person who goes from healthy one second to disabled the next.”