Stroke rate increasing among younger people

September 18, 2012

According to the Center for Disease Control, the rate of people hospitalized for stroke between the ages of 15 and 44 has gone up 37% between 1995 and 2008.

Action New Health Reporter and Registered Nurse Ali Gorman spoke with a local family and tells how their story can help others.

The Doyle family says Molly, now age 3, was an extra blessing for their already fortunate family with big brothers Jack and Max.

Two weeks after Molly was born, they thought everything was perfect, until something scary happened while Kathy was waiting for her husband outside a Dunkin Donuts.

"As soon as he left the car, I watched him go in the store, and I really thought I got shot in the back of the head. The pain, there was an intense pain behind my right eye and my whole body just kind of melted away," said Kathy Doyle.

Her husband is a police officer, and says he knew right away when he saw Kathy, she was having a stroke.

"I looked around and that's when I saw all the signs, and I said, 'Oh Lord, this is really happening,'" said Steven Doyle.

He took Kathy straight to the hospital.

Dr. Erol Veznedaroglu, or Dr. Vez, at Capital Health showed Action News the clot on Kathy's CAT scan.

"The first hospital started a clot-busting medication and then she came here," said Dr. Vez.

Dr. Vez says her husband did everything right.

"He didn't wait, he had her in the car and took her right to the emergency room," he said.

He says the longer someone waits for treatment the worse off they will be. He says anyone with sudden one-sided symptoms, such as weakness must get to a stroke center as quickly as possible.

"An arm, a leg, a face, vision in one eye, problems with speech, difficulty finding words; it can be subtle, it doesn't have to be garbled speech or incoherent speech it could be just trying to get a word out," said Dr. Vez. There are also new devices doctors have to remove clots. At Capital Health their using one called Trevo.

Doctors thread a catheter right to the clot, and unlike other similar devices this one restores blood flow to the brain right away.

In Kathy's case, within hours after treatment, she was able to move and talk.

She now has nearly no effects from the stroke all because they acted quickly.

"Every day I am just so blessed," said Kathy.

Dr. Vez says there many factors why more young people suffer strokes, including the nation's problem with obesity and more people living less-active lives.

Kathy also says before the stroke, she was having headaches that were unusual for her. She chalked them up to having a new baby, but now tells others if you notice symptoms not normal for you, get checked out by a doctor regardless of your age.

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