Strokes are not uncommon among young people - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Strokes are not uncommon among young people

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Melanie Bernardo (submitted) Melanie Bernardo (submitted)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

There have been more and more stories about strokes occurring in females under the age of 45.

Melanie Bernardo, of New Haven, is a typical 19-year-old college student who works part-time.

Just one month ago she experienced the unexpected and suffered a stroke.

“I started feeling really weird...like really funny; like something wasn't right. My vision went blurry, I was having really loud ringing in my ears,” Bernardo said.

She was with her boyfriend at the time and said when she went to talk, she couldn’t tell him that “something was feeling weird, nothing was coming out...it was all jumbled up words. I knew what I wanted to say, but nothing was coming out...so I was kind of just pointing to my phone like, you need to call 911.”

She was rushed to the hospital.

“About 10 to 15 percent of strokes in America occur in people who are under the age of 45,” said Dr. Amre Nouh, a stroke neurologist at Hartford Hospital.

Nouh has been working with Bernardo and is still trying to determine what caused her stroke.

According to Nouh, up to one third of strokes in younger patients comes from an undetermined source called a “cryptogenic stroke.”

“Sometimes in young people we don't see the traditional risk factors that we talk about, and we have to look for unusual causes of strokes or uncommon causes of strokes,” Nouh said.

One in four strokes in those are under 45 years old.

“We suspect a dissection; it's more common in younger people because it can happen spontaneously,” Nouh said.

A dissection is basically a tear in the blood vessel that can cause it to collapse, which results in the loss of blood flow to the brain.

However, there are still a number of other risk factors associated with strokes.

“Part of it may be also the increased prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other risk factors in our younger population,” Nouh said.

If Bernardo’s boyfriend didn’t dial 911 right away, her road to recovery could have been much harder.

“Everything came back pretty quick...the only thing is hot and cold on my right side of my body--I can't really feel it,” Bernardo said.

“Stroke is a preventable disease and that if we play our part in taking care of ourselves then hopefully we'll be able to prevent these strokes,” Nouh said.

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