A 27-year-old woman who thought her drink had been spiked while out on a hen party later discovered she’s had a stroke.
Joanna Whitelaw, from Edinburgh, Scotland, was celebrating her friend’s nuptials in May this year when her body ‘suddenly went numb’ and her vision blurred.
She was rushed out of the bar by her friends who feared her drink had been spiked and got her boyfriend to take her home where she spent the rest of the night being sick.
Whitelaw grew concerned the next day when the vision in her right eye didn’t return and she was experiencing pins and needles down the right side of her body.
Strokes: Read more
Signs and symptoms of a stroke as Susan Boyle reveals she experienced one (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)
Husband saves wife’s life after spotting signs she was having a stroke (Yahoo Life UK, 8-min read)
Eating oily fish linked to reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)
After taking herself to A&E, an MRI scan revealed that she had suffered a stroke and found a blood clot in her brain. Further testing found that it had been caused by an undiagnosed hole in her heart and she was scheduled for surgery.
"It was a huge shock when I was told it was a stroke," Whitelaw says. "I was having the best night - playing games and having a good time with friends.
"It was until I was in the club, and I didn't feel right and thought I'd been spiked. I’m an otherwise fit and healthy person. I’ve never had any other symptoms, so it came as a huge shock."
Four months on and Whitelaw says she still hasn’t regained all feeling back, but she is slowly starting to go to the gym again.
"I just want to make people aware of the symptoms," she adds. "I thought it was being spiked and the next day, I still didn’t suspect a stroke. Hopefully it can help other people get medical help quickly."
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a type of cerebrovascular disease that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
It is a medical emergency and it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to lessen the effects of the stroke.
According to the Stroke Association, around 100,000 people in the UK have a stroke each year, and it results in around 38,000 deaths annually. There are around 1.3 million stroke survivors living in the UK.
Stroke signs and symptoms
According to the NHS, the main symptoms of a stroke can be remembered by using the acronym FAST:
F for Face: If someone’s face droops on one side, they are unable to smile or their mouth or eye has dropped this could be a sign of a stroke.
A for Arms: If a person is having a stroke they may not be able to lift both of their arms and keep them there and may feel weakness and numbness in one arm.
S for Speech: If speech is slurred or garbled, or someone cannot speak or can suddenly not understand what you’re saying, this could be a symptom of a stroke.
T for Time: Call 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is restricted or stopped. There are two main causes of strokes: ischaemic and haemorrhagic.
Ischaemic is responsible for 85% of strokes and is when the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot.
Haemorrhagic is when the weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.
Conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and irregular heartbeats can increase someone’s risk of having a stroke.
It is important to seek medical treatment as soon as you notice the symptoms of a stroke as this can increase your odds of recovering from it and lessen the injury to your brain.
Strokes are generally treated with medicine to prevent and dissolve blood clots, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Surgery to remove a blood clot may also be required.