Stroke: Man, 28, told ‘it couldn’t be a stroke’ because of his age, but it was – symptoms
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Calling for an ambulance, Chris Johnson, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, felt terrified while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Recalling the event, Chris said: “In a moment, I lost the feeling in the right side of my body, and the vision in my right eye was reduced to broad patches of colour. I waited a moment, sure that it would resolve, but it didn’t. I was able to call an ambulance, but by the time it arrived I was struggling to talk, and unable to describe what had happened.
“The paramedic said that it couldn’t be a stroke, because I was only 28.”
Yet, when the keen cyclist arrived at Royal London Hospital, tests revealed that he has indeed suffered from a stroke.
More specifically, there was a hole in the young barrister’s heart that he was previously unaware of..
A clot passed through the hole between two sides of Chris’s heart and blocked a blood vessel in his brain.
Chris sent a week in the Hyper-Acute Stroke Unit at the Royal London Hospital.
“The stroke was caused by a hole in my heart, which had to be surgically closed,” he revealed to the Manchester Evening News.
“When discharged home, I was left with altered sensation in my right side, difficulty finding words, difficulty recalling information, ferocious headaches and fatigue.”
Before the ordeal, Chris described himself as “fit and healthy”; he had “no idea at all” that there was a hole in his heart.
Chris aded that the medical staff who attended to him were “fantastic” and applauded the “remarkable surgery” to close the hole in his heart.
During his recovery period, however, he experienced a “horrible sense of vulnerability that was difficult to shake”.
But cycling was an “enormous” help in motivating him to recover from the life-threatening experience.
“Now, 10 months on, I have recovered almost entirely, left only with a tingling sensation in my right hand, and an intractable inability to remember people’s names,” Chris said.
Chris is due to take on Basajaun, a 760km gravel ultra-race in Spain, on July 30 to raise money for the brain injury charity Headway. To donate click here.
Remember the acronym FAST, which details the symptoms of a stroke:
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
- Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
- Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
“Even if the symptoms disappear while you’re waiting for the ambulance, it’s still important to go to hospital for an assessment,” the NHS added.
Strokes can also lead to different symptoms, such as:
- Complete paralysis of one side of the body
- Sudden loss or blurring of vision
- Difficulty understanding what others are saying
- Problems with balance and co-ordination
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- A sudden and very severe headache resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before
- Loss of consciousness.
A hole in the heart
Known as congenital heart disease, the birth defect affects one in 100 babies in the UK.
In babies and children, signs might include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Swelling of the legs, tummy or around the eyes
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue
- A blue tinge to the skin or lips (cyanosis)
- Tiredness and rapid breathing when a baby is feeding.
“Many cases of congenital heart disease are diagnosed before a baby is born during an ultrasound scan in pregnancy,” the NHS stated.
“However, it’s not always possible to detect congenital heart defects in this way.”
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