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Young stroke survivors warning others about stroke risks

Stroke survivor speaks out about stroke experience
Posted at 7:01 AM, Jun 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 08:01:17-04

"Strokes know, no bounds, at all," Stroke Survivor Sarah Conaway said.

Conaway tells us she didn't realize she was having a stroke.

"At the time, I didn't really know what was happening."

Conaway had two strokes in three days, when she was just 34-years-old.

"Because my first stroke was ischemic, a few days later the blood thinners caused me to have a hemorrhagic stroke so I had bleeding in my brain," she said.

Conaway says, now she wants young adults to pay attention to the signs.

"There is this stigma that it only happens to old people," she said. So young people really need to know that it can happen to anyone, it does not matter your age.

Nebraska Medicine Neurologist Dr. T. Scott Diesing agrees.

"We are definitely seeing more strokes in younger patients and part of that it has to do with lifestyle," he said. The same risk factors that are traditionally associated with stroke and heart attack."

Dr. Diesing says women who take oral contraceptives are also at risk of having a stroke, due to possible clotting, which can lead to a stroke.

"The risk is roughly twice that of the general population, but then there's certain populations with a much higher risk," he said. People with migraine with aura have a much much higher risk of stroke and clots, as do people with traditional risk factors, [such as] high blood pressure, high cholesterol."

Dr. Diesing tells us, strokes at young age can affect patients for a lifetime.

"In younger patients it's more devastating because they have a longer life to deal with the disability and the deficits from the stroke," Diesing said. You can imagine if you have a stroke at 25 or 35, that's 50 to 60 years of dealing with the complications of that."

He also tells us, "once you have a stroke your risk is higher but you can do a lot to lessen that risk, by reducing your weight, reducing your blood pressure, watching your blood sugar, regularly checking in with your physician."

Since her stroke Conaway says her lifestyle has changed, she says she now lives by the acronym F.A.S.T.

"Facial drooping, arm weakness, speech and then time .. time of the essence," Conaway said.

You can find more information about strokes, risks factors and treatment here: https://www.nebraskamed.com/neurological-care/stroke https://www.strokeassociation.org/