COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Doctors are seeing a serious and often deadly type of stroke more often in young and middle-aged adults, according to the American Heart Association. It said the rate among this age group is growing faster than in older people.
Medical experts in central Ohio said they are seeing this trend.
At Riverside Methodist Hospital there is a team that works to treat strokes, and for one central Ohio teenager, they were important in saving his life in August.
It was a normal day for 18-year-old Tyler Trost, but a matter of seconds changed that and led to diagnoses he never expected.
“I was in the bathroom and my legs started to go numb. And then my arm started to go numb,” Trost said.
He didn’t know what was happening but knew he had never felt like this before.
“Then all of a sudden, I started like drooling like I could feel my mouth going numb on the left side. And I started to drool a little bit and that’s how I kind of realized like, yeah, this is not okay,” Trost said.
He ended up being medflighted to Riverside Methodist Hospital.
“At that point, they called ahead and notified our stroke team. So we were available for him ready when he came into this room and we identified that he had a large stroke,” Ohio Health Stroke Neurologist Brian Katz said.
“That was the one thing that I didn’t want to believe is the fact that there’s no way I’m having a stroke at the age of 18,” Trost said.
There is a stroke scale: from zero which is a healthy person, to 30 where a person is comatose.
“He was approximately I think it was between 8 to 12, which is really high for a young person,” Riverside Radiology Neuro-Interventional Radiologist Dr. Abdulnasser Alhajeri said.
The doctors were able to successfully remove the blood clots causing Trost to have the stroke but then came another surprise.
“Apparently there’s been a hole in my heart since birth, but it’s never been figured out about, no one’s ever caught it. It’s just been there for my whole life,” Trost.
He said doctors told him that’s how blood clots got up to his brain.
This is one case of a stroke, but the reason someone can have one is a wide range.
Doctors said it’s important to never ignore symptoms which can include balance issues, vision loss or double vision, facial droop, arm weakness and speech changes.
“Sometimes you may have genes or congenital problems that will be hidden because the lifestyle did not support it to show up. And a lot of that, a lot of times with young people changes by their food, their habits, all of that contribute unfortunately to have those showing up more and more,” Dr. Alhajeri said.
The amount of time it takes to come in and get diagnosed can alter how doctors are able to treat someone.
Ohio Health is seeing the trend of younger patients but they say part of that is research improving allowing them to identify more strokes.
“There’s a lot of different causes of stroke. And again, each stroke is very individualized. And thankfully stroke mortality is going down. Now, our ability to identify strokes, to recognize signs and symptoms of strokes, bring the patients to the hospital getting the right tests are improving,” Dr. Katz said. “Obesity, diet, smoking, vaping, things that are been associated with increased risk of strokes are as well as illicit drug use, can contribute to strokes at a younger age.”
Now Trost is almost fully recovered and is working to spread awareness.
“I think that’d be a really good thing to have out there. The fact that it can happen at literally any age,” Trost said.
Another stroke resource Riverside Hospital has is a mobile stroke unit which is essentially an emergency room on wheels that can be brought to a home if someone is worried they are having signs of a stroke.