North Texas

Irving Man Warns Stroke Can Happen To Anyone At Any Age

Younger people are getting strokes, according to the journal of the American Medical Association.

Doctors say prevention is key, and one Irving man warns others to heed doctors' warnings.

Doug Meyers, 34, says the news should serve as a wake up call to all of us.

He suffered a stroke earlier this year, without exhibiting any warning signs, in the garage of his Irving home.

"I got home after work. I just cracked a beer. I literally fell out of my chair," Meyers said. "Nothing on the right side of my body worked."

"I was thinking I was fine, because I could see everything perfectly," he added.

His roommate, Raney North, happened to walk into the garage moments after Meyers fell.

"He looked at me, but there were no words, and I asked, 'Doug, are you OK?'" North said. "You see eyes, thinking and processing, but there was no feedback. I knew when there was nothing in is arms and legs, I needed to call 9-1-1."

Doctors say Doug had a congenital heart defect that led to a blood clot near his brain.

It's a rare cause of stroke, but it made him part of a concerning statistic: one in five stroke victims is now under the age of 55.

"When we first saw Doug, I told my nurse, 'It always puts me in a foul mood when one of my stroke patients is actually younger than I am,'" said Dr. Dion Graybeal, head of Baylor University Medical Center's stroke department.

He says at one time, young people had strokes mainly because of undetected conditions like Meyers'.

Now, high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes and tobacco use are more common causes of stroke in people in their 50s, 40s even 30s.

With a stroke, time-loss is brain-loss. Nearly two million brain cells die every minute a stroke goes untreated, and stroke is the number-one cause of adult disability.

"Prevention is always going to be the name of the game. Patients going out and seeing their primary provider, getting those routine screening exams, controlling their cholesterol, their diabetes, blood pressure, not smoking," Graybeal said.

Three weeks after his stroke, Meyers regained his speech but still has weakness on his right side.

Since the defect in his heart can't be repaired, he'll take medicine for the rest of his to prevent another stroke.

"You never know. You have to be aware. Anything can happen at anytime," Meyers said.

The American Stroke Association uses the acronym "FAST" to help you recognize the signs of stroke:

F stands for face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
is for arms. Ask the person to raise both arms.
is for speech. Look for slurred or strange speech.
is for time, which is of the essence during stroke. Always call 9-1-1.

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