Hailey Bieber's health scare a warning for young people: Signs of blood clots to look out for

·6-min read

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Hailey Bieber's recent hospitalization for a "very small blood clot" has left her pop star husband shaken up.

On Wednesday, Canadian singer Justin Bieber addressed fans during a power outage at a recent concert to reflect on the frightening incident.

"Most of you probably know or seen the news about my wife, I'm not sure if you guys seen. She's OK, she's good, she's strong," Justin said in a video shared to Instagram. "But it's been scary, you know, like it's been really scary, but I know for a fact that God has her in the palm of his hands and that's a good thing."

Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber
Justin Bieber addressed wife Hailey Bieber's recent hospitalization. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)

The statement comes days after the 25-year-old model took to Instagram stories to reveal she had been briefly hospitalized after experiencing "stroke-like symptoms" while enjoying breakfast with her husband.

Bieber told fans she was taken to the hospital where doctors discovered a "very small" blood clot to the brain "which caused a small lack of oxygen."

Luckily, the model's body was able to pass the clot on its own and her recovery was swift.

"Although this was definitely one of the scariest moments I've every been through, I'm home now and doing well, and I'm so grateful and thankful to all the amazing doctors and nurses who took care of me!" Bieber wrote to fans.

While many people may be surprised by the news given Bieber’s age, experts say the star's health scare is a reminder that blood clots can occur at any age.

Dr. Menaka Pai, an expert in blood clots who did not treat Bieber, says it’s important for young people to know what symptoms to look out for so they can seek medical attention as soon as they need it.

Hailey Bieber suffered a
Hailey Bieber suffered a "small blood clot" earlier this month. (Photo by Amy Sussman/KCA2021/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

What is a blood clot?

According to Healthline, a blood clot is a clump of blood “that’s changed from a liquid to a gel-like or semisolid state.” Blood clots aren't always a bad thing. For example, when we become injured, blood clots can form to plug an injured blood vessel and stop bleeding.

However, blood clots can form in your veins or arteries for no reason and won’t always dissolve on their own. If a blood clot doesn’t dissolve and travels through your veins, it could lead to a medical emergency, especially when they travel to the lungs or brain where they prevent blood flow and cause low oxygen levels in the blood.

What is a stroke?

Strokes occur when blood clots block or limits blood flow to the brain. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists three main types of strokes – ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is considered a ministroke.

Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber were enjoying breakfast when the model experienced
Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber were enjoying breakfast when the model experienced "stroke-like symptoms." (Image via Getty Images)

Although Bieber didn't disclose her diagnosis specifically, Pai estimates that the model most likely experienced experienced a TIA. These ministrokes only last for a few minutes and occur when the blood supply to the part of the brain is "briefly interrupted."

Bieber's statement noted that the blood clot passed on its own, which Pai says is the “best case scenario.”

“For Hailey Bieber she had her symptoms and they went away on their own, but if a brain is starved of oxygen long enough then you can actually have permanent damage to the brain,” Pai explains in an interview with Yahoo Canada.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

In her social media post, Bieber says she went to the hospital when she experienced "stroke-like symptoms" and her move to seek immediate medical attention is receiving praise from doctors.

The CDC says every minute counts during a stroke which is why it's so important to pay attention to any irregularities in your body.

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Signs of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, sudden confusion or trouble speaking, blurry vision and a severe headache.

You can also remember them through the acronym BE FAST - B for balance, E for eyes and loss of vision, F for face drooping, A for arm weakness, S for speech difficulty and T for it's time to call 911.

If you experience any of these symptoms, Pai says you need to seek medical care immediately.

Is it rare for young people to experience blood clots?

Many people were likely shocked by Bieber’s health scare because she’s only in her mid-twenties.

Although it's true that blood clots become more common with age, especially for people over 65, doctors warn that they can occur at any age.

In an interview with PEOPLE, Dr. Shazam Hussain, a vascular neurologist, says he is seeing the health problem happening in “younger and younger people.”

Pai says around 15 per cent of strokes happen in young people, and are more common in women between the ages of 25-44 than men of the same age.

According to Pai, younger people have a higher risk of stroke if they are obese, have high blood pressure or diabetes, smoke or take birth control pills.

COVID-19 and blood clots

COVID-19 is another risk factor linked to blood clots, and Pai wants people to know that the virus can increase a person's risk for strokes.

“We know that infection with COVID-19 can increase the risk of blood clots including stroke, because the virus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is very inflammatory and inflammation of the blood vessels can lead to clots,” she tells Yahoo Canada.

Strokes occur when a blot clot travels to the brain blocking blood flow. (Image via Getty Images)
Strokes occur when a blot clot travels to the brain blocking blood flow. (Image via Getty Images)

If you get a blood clot once are you at risk of experiencing them again?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says TIAs (ministrokes) are often “warning signs” that a person is at risk for a more serious and debilitating stroke. Approximately one-third of those who have a TIA will have an acute stroke in the future.

Due to that increased risk, Pai says doctors will monitor their patients very closely after they suffer any type of stroke. Doctors may also recommend certain medications, like blood thinners or treatments to lower blood pressure or cholesterol.

Recommended lifestyle changes

While you don’t have control over certain risk factors like family history, you can make lifestyle changes to help prevent strokes. The two biggest changes that can have a major impact on your health include quitting smoking and being active.

When working with her patients, Pai says she always tells them not to think about a target weight, but to try and be as active as they can.

“It’s really devastating to see young people with a stroke. It’s scary, it can lead to permanent disability,” Pai says. “I think what it tells us is that we as a society really need to get better at promoting healthy lifestyles and making it easier for young people to achieve those lifestyles.”

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