A Sudden Headache
At age 20, I was “gifted” with a stroke. One day I was stricken like a train with a very severe headache. Most people would not immediately think I was at the edge of a stroke. A few hours later, I developed waves of nausea and vomited. My stomach felt better, yet as I was laying down I felt fatigued and I was talking to my fiance. He was looking at me like I was crazy. He later told me I was speaking gibberish and my eyes weren’t focusing properly. He decided to take me to the hospital. I had difficulty walking to the car; it felt like my legs were blocks of lead. I’m thankful he took me, because if I were alone, I’m not sure what could have happened. I underwent an imaging procedure and it was discovered I suffered Cerebral Venous Thrombosis (CVT). Older people are not the only ones stricken with strokes now. Thanks to high LDL cholesterol levels increasing in all age groups and sedentary lifestyles, even college students are occasionally suffering strokes.
Unlikely Symptoms and New Therapies
My stroke was one of the veins, rather than the usual clogged arteries. Veins in my brain draining blood from my head to my heart became clotted. While a CVT stroke is rare, it is most often seen among pregnant women, women taking contraceptives, and people under the age of 45 with certain tendencies in the blood to clot. I had been taking oral contraceptives for a few years, and the doctor told me that likely played a part. He also told me that a sudden, unexplained headache is a rare symptom of some forms of stroke. The headache is not normal, it’s unbearable and usually nausea will follow. Headaches which build in severity over days or weeks also can potentially signal a stroke. I also experienced dizziness, fatigue, and “brain fog,” which also are rarer symptoms. If you experience any of the above or facial sagging, vision trouble, or numbness on any part of your body, you need emergency care.
An MRI is more keen on picking up stroke damage than other x-ray methods. An MRI is what showed my stroke damage, as well as what type of stroke I suffered. Treatment for me included several methods, mainly focusing on intensive blood pressure lowering. It’s been discovered over the past few years that using methods to quickly lower blood pressure highly improves chances of recovery, and greatly reduces chances of severe disability. Your doctor will use blood pressure reduction IV’s, medications, and other methods for the next few weeks after your stroke. My doctor told me this treatment is very successful for a large amount of patients. After a medical regimen is established, many doctors will give a diet and exercise plan. Exercise and diet can strengthen your veins, naturally reduce your blood pressure, and also can reduce future health problems. Luckily, all I had to do was change my contraceptive pill and start a low dose blood pressure medication. I also made dietary changes and incorporate cardio exercise in my weekly schedule. A Mediterranean type of diet has been shown to increase the quality of life after a stroke, as well as prevent future strokes. There’s other new treatments being intensively studied, such as robotic limb therapy and brain stimulation. A vast amount of patients, however, have a high likelihood of responding primarily to blood pressure lowering and certain medications pertaining to their unique type of stroke.
From Vagus nerve stimulation, to water treadmill walking, treatments for stroke are making leaps and bounds quickly. I’m lucky my body responded quickly to blood pressure reduction and lifestyle changes. There’s many treatments and nobody should give up and accept disability. The future of stroke treatment and rehabilitation is very bright.