YOUNG VICTIMS: Strokes Impacting Those Under 40
It’s normal for a doctor to treat a 60–year-old stroke patient, not one in their twenties. Doctors say they’re seeing more and more of their younger clientele.
It’s been four years since Amy Lucia’s last rehab session.
“How often do you think tomorrow I’m going to have to re-learn how to walk? I mean kind the biggest challenge I think I have ever faced and anybody could face.”
At 23, she was invincible and healthy. Then in February of 2009 a strange headache changed all of that.
“I lost complete focus and complete vision and I was able to get pulled over and that`s when I noticed my right side didn`t work.”
Friends rushed her to Methodist Medical Center and a full check-up followed.
“They ran all these tests just to make sure they knew what was going on but stroke was never something they brought up at first.”
Amy suffered a brain stem stroke.
In our interview, it was the first time Dr. Calvin Hansen has seen Amy since the diagnosis. He’s encouraged by how far she’s come but worries a growing number of 20-something’s will face the same challenge.
Hansen says, “well it`s disheartening when people are so young.”
He says strokes are occurring more often in people under the age of 40. Most are unpreventable but there are ways to reduce the chance.
“The younger folks now are having more of the risk factors, high blood pressure because of obesity is increasing and high blood pressure is definitely a risk factor for any age.”
Amy didn’t have any of the risk factors, for her it was a small tear in a brain artery. Dr. Hansen says a tear can come on spontaneously or after trauma.
There is a small chance Amy could suffer another stroke but she doesn’t dwell on that. Instead she focuses her attention on helping other stroke victims in rehab.
“To have me come in now and say you know what I’ve been there and as long as you do what the doctors tell you, it’s going to get better.”
Ten months of rehab and four years later, she’s had time to think how one night changed her whole outlook on life.
“I`ve never, well at least I feel like I’ve never done anything great but to go from the situation I was in to essentially coming out on top I feel like that`s great.”
Doctors say younger brains are able to recuperate faster than older people and have a better chance of making a full recovery.