Doctors dismissed 3 young men’s stroke symptoms as drugs and migraines
- About 10% of strokes occur in people under the age of 50, so the young are prone to misdiagnosis.
- Insider shared the stories of two young stroke victims who were assumed by doctors to have migraines.
- Another young stroke survivor said doctors were convinced she had used drugs or had a hangover.
When Hailey Beiber suffered a stroke in March at age 25, she forced fans and supporters to confront an underappreciated fact: Strokes can and do happen to young people.
In fact, about 10% of stroke victims are under the age of 50, Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-JonesPresident of the American Heart Association, previously told Insider.
Still, doctors (and patients) can miss the signs and attribute them to more common culprits like stress, drug or alcohol useeither migraines. As a result, some Patients may never fully recover.. “Minutes matter in terms of saving brain tissue and brain function,” Lloyd-Jones said.
Insider covered the stories of three young people whose symptoms were not taken seriously due, at least in part, they believe, to their age. This is how they paid the price and what they wish had happened instead.
A 20-year-old man was sent home from the ER with a migraine diagnosis even though he couldn’t walk
Xavier Ortiz was playing basketball when some of his friends, who are nurses, noticed his blank look. He was urged to go to the emergency room, where he complained of the classic signs of a stroke such as severe headache, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, dizziness, and numbness on one side of his body, his girlfriend, Natasha Sanchez. , told Insider.
But the doctor told them it was a migraine, gave Ortiz an IV and pain relievers, and sent him on his way, Sánchez said. She and Ortiz’s mom, who had joined them at the time, had to carry him to the car.
The next day, Ortiz began convulsing in bed. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where doctors suspected that he had taken drugs. It was not until the next day, when a second neurologist examined the brain scansthat the family learned that he had had a severe stroke and only had a 3% chance of survival.
Ortiz, who lives in New Jersey and graduated from technical college shortly before the stroke, survived, although a year after the stroke he was unable to speak, walk or care for himself, said his stepmother, Jackie Ortiz.
She wonders what might have happened if her husband had taken Xavier Ortiz to the emergency room that first night. It is in her nature to stand up to authority figures like doctors and, research suggests, doctors are less likely to deceive a man than a young person or woman.
“Maybe things would have been different for us,” Jackie Ortiz said.
Doctors were certain that the drugs had caused the symptoms in a 27-year-old woman.
Doctors encouraged Brittany Scheier to confess. “They kept asking me, ‘Did you take drugs? It’s okay. [if you did]'” the Texas-based attorney told Insider.
But Scheier, who was 27 at the time, had nothing to disclose except that he had been celebrating his birthday at wineries the day before. Then, in the middle of the night, he woke up with extreme nausea and ran to the bathroom to vomit.
“I suddenly realized that I couldn’t move the right side of my body. I tried to stand up, I couldn’t. I tried to reach things, I couldn’t,” Scheier said. Her vision narrowed to a pinprick, and she screamed at her roommates, who carried her limp body to a car and took her to the emergency room.
Doctors ordered a CT scan five hours after arrival. Scheier had had a stroke. “It was just shocking,” she said. “I thought strokes were just something that happened to people my grandparents’ age.”
Scheier recovered with months of medication and various outpatient therapies. She had to relearn how to drive and she couldn’t be left alone as her depth perception and coordination made it difficult for her to walk.
Dr Suzanne Steinbaum, a New York City cardiologist, told Insider that Scheier’s experience shows just how critical it is for women, who are more likely to suffer and die from strokes than men, to defend themselves.
“A lot of times I hear, ‘I was listening to the doctor. Maybe he’s right,'” he said. But “nobody lives in our bodies. We know when we’re not well.”
A 26-year-old girl felt unnoticed in the emergency room because of her age
Jenna Goldman had learned to deal with her occasional but debilitating ocular migraines: “Take me home, put a cloth over my head, sit in a dark room for a few hours and just relax,” Goldman, then 26. told Insider.
But one day in 2020, those tools didn’t work. Goldman, a Marketing and events professional in New York, he developed numbness on the left side of his body, was unable to move or speak, and began to sweat and vomit profusely.
“I felt something take over my body and I was knocked to the ground. I had no idea what was happening,” he said.
But at the hospital, which was overrun with COVID patients, Goldman had no priority. “The lights are so bright, I’m in so much pain, I haven’t had any water, I’m a big mess and no one is treating me,” he said. “They just think I’m a kid with a migraine.”
The next day, Goldman underwent an MRI, which revealed that he had suffered multiple traces through his brain.
Goldman spent three months in physical therapy, and more than two years later, she still had trouble concentrating, tired and overheated easily, and lacked feeling on her left side.
Doctors eventually linked her stroke to her birth control pills, which increase the risk of stroke — especially among people with ocular migraines.
“If my gynecologist had ever told me that migraines and birth control don’t go together,” she said, “then I would have dropped the whole estrogen thing.”