Christy Kirk had a stroke at age 27. Doctors initially told her she was having a panic attack.
Doctors are more likely to misdiagnose strokes in women and people younger than 45.
Kirk has since made a full recovery. She has run 17 marathons since her stroke.
In the year In 2003, Christy Kirk suffered a stroke at the age of 27 – and doctors initially thought she was having a panic attack.
Kirk, a Boston-based dentist and marathon runner, was training for her first Boston Marathon at the time. After spending 5 to 8 hours in dental school, she continued running every day.
One day after returning home from a training run, Kirk started feeling “a little off” and thought she might have run too much. A few minutes later, as she sat on her couch, the entire right side of her body went numb.
Kirk was experiencing a StrokeThis happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen, which is caused by a blood clot that has lodged in a small hole in the heart. Atrial septal defect.
She said her eyes were locked to one side, and she couldn’t speak without slurring her words.
“I tried to use my phone to call my husband, but I realized, I couldn’t even form words when I wanted to leave him a voicemail,” she said. “That’s when I was really shocked.”
Stroke is the leading cause of death and disability in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and timely treatment is important to prevent serious side effects. It’s a stroke. The fifth leading cause of death for womenAnd 1 in 5 women ages 55 to 75 in the US will have a stroke.
But strokes are often misdiagnosed in young women like Kirk. Men under the age of 45 and women are more likely to be misdiagnosed in the week before a relatively weak period starts, he says. Johns Hopkins.
Doctors initially recognize a stroke as a panic attack.
After trying to call her husband, Kirkos went to her neighbors and asked them to take her to the hospital.
In the emergency room, Kirk says she still can’t speak without stuttering, but she’s regained the ability to move her eyes because her life is normal. The ER doctor examines Kirk in shock and tells her, “She looks fine.” They sent her home with a prescription to take anti-depressants.
“I know I’m not a panicky person, I’ve never panicked in my life and everything was going well for me at the time,” she said. “I called my best friend. She came and stayed with me because I was scared, I thought I might die at home alone.
One of the reasons for Kirk’s misdiagnosis was that the blood clot in her brain from the stroke was so small that it wasn’t initially seen on a CT scan. A few days later, Kirk followed up with another doctor for an MRI, which showed more images of her brain to diagnose the issue.
Kirk has fully recovered
Doctors treated Kirk to a minimally invasive procedure in which they placed a mesh-like device called a septal occluder to close the opening in her heart. Kirk, now 47, has run 17 marathons and a couple triathlons since the accident and has four children.
Kirk said the fact that she was young and “very healthy and fit” contributed to the misdiagnosis. She added: “I don’t think I have a medical problem at all. But she’s still upset that the ER doctor didn’t do more tests after she found out she had a panic attack.
“It’s an indescribable feeling when your body isn’t working and your brain is telling it to do something, it’s doing exactly what it’s doing and you’re out of control,” she said. “I’m very lucky and happy that I’ve been able to stay healthy all these years.”
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