Think you’re too young to have a stroke? Think again.

Think you’re too young to have a stroke? Think again.

A stroke is one of the most common ailments of the elderly. But it is not merely an elderly affliction.

In fact, young adults and adolescents have 15 percent of all ischemic strokes, according to the National Stroke Association. A stroke occurs when blood flow from the brain is blocked.

Hannah, a high school senior, noticed strange symptoms during gym class one day this spring. A short while later, she could barely walk, her left side felt numb and tingly and she could only see half of one of her classmates. She realized what was going on.

An ambulance was called, and she found herself at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, a comprehensive stroke center in Milwaukee.

“The causes of stroke can be very complex,” says Sarah Eilers, the nurse who took care of Hannah. “The most important thing to do if you’re experiencing symptoms is to act fast. Just because you’re young and generally healthy, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re definitely not having a stroke.”

Common stroke risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, uncontrolled diabetes, obesity and atrial fibrillation.

To remember the signs of a stroke, B.E. F.A.S.T.:

B = Balance (Do you have sudden loss of balance or coordination?)
E = Eyes (Is your vision blurred? Do you have double vision or sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes?)

F = Face (Can you smile? Does one side of the face sag or droop?)
A = Arm or leg weakness or numbness (Is one side of the body weak or numb?)
S = Speech (Is your speech slurred or strange-sounding? Do you have trouble speaking or understanding?)
T = Terrible headache (Sudden onset of a terrible headache or “the worst headache of your life”)

“You have to really listen to your body,” says Eilers. “Know the signs of stroke, and if you’re experiencing them, act quickly, no matter your age. We say, ‘time is brain’, meaning that the sooner you can begin treatment for stroke, the better for your brain.”

Strokes can be preventable. Know your stroke risk by taking a quick Stroke Health Risk Assessment by clicking here.

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Cheri Mantz
Cheri Mantz

Cheri Mantz is the Manager of Marketing Operations for Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. She is based in Milwaukee.