JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You have a headache...it's not going away... but you carry on. Then, all of the sudden, your hand goes numb, your face starts to drop, your speech is slurred. Could you be having a stroke? This happened to Urvashi Patel last September. She's in her 40's.
"I don't have high blood pressure, or diabetes, I'm not obese, so, none of those usual three indicators, and usually it's older people," Patel said.
But she did, in fact, have a stroke. It started with a bad headache, and then her hands went numb. So, she went to the nurse at work.
"I couldn't even open my hands up on the left side. So, the paralysis was already starting to set in on the left side. So, she was like yeah, I think you're having a stroke," Patel said.
She immediately went to the Stroke Center at the Mayo Clinic. She says her coworker's wife had a stroke in her late 30s. She knew it wasn't unheard of, just unusual.
"There are more unique things in the younger population like some genetic or inborn disorders that can lead to stroke," Dr. Brown, a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic, said.
Brown said carotid dissection happens more in the younger population. That's when the layers of the carotid artery separate, causing a stroke. That's what happened with Patel.
She had to relearn how to walk through months of physical therapy.
"What caused this? We don't know. Is it genetic? Doing genetic testing at Mayo. We'll find out in the next couple of months. If it's not genetic, is it random? I like the idea of random because usually random doesn't happen twice," Patel said.
It's important to recognize the warning signs of stroke. You can remember them with the acronym FAST.
F: Face drooping
A: Arm weakness
S: Speech difficulty
T: Time to call 911