Saskatoon woman warning others about uncommon signs of a stroke
Every nine minutes, someone in Canada suffers from a stroke. More than 400,000 Canadians are currently living with a long-term stroke disability and in 2012, more than 13,000 Canadians died as a result of one.
Kayla Schann, 29, never thought it would happen to her, at least not at her age.
She says she did everything right – worked out five to seven days a week, ran a half-marathon last year and didn’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol – but that didn’t matter.
“I had an acute ischemic stroke of medium size,” Schann said.
It’s the most common type of stroke, accounting for 80 per cent of all cases and here are the signs officials say to look for.
“We have an acronym FAST so that stands for Face- is your face drooping? Arms- can you lift both your arms? S is for Speech is it slurred or is it jumbled? T is for Time because a stroke is a medical emergency so it’s time to call 911 if you have those signs,” said Fleur Macqueen Smith, director of government relations and health promotion with the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“Most people will have at least one of these signs,” Macqueen Smith said.
Schann says she didn’t have any of these tell-tale signs associated with a stroke and sought medical advice from the Saskatchewan Healthline after this happened.
“I woke up and I had a headache, it wasn’t a bad headache – I’ve had headaches before,” Schann said.
“At about noon I was moving furniture in my living room nothing hard – just on linoleum and I got a little bit dizzy and I stood up and I felt like I couldn’t see from one side,” she said.
That was on May 22 and after several CT scans, Schann was finally diagnosed. By that time, though, the damage had been done.
“I don’t see my hand until it’s here if I’m looking straight,” said Schann as she brought her hand to the centre of her face from the right-hand side of her body.
She lost 50 per cent of her vision to the right side in each eye and may not drive or work again.
“Basically, lost all of my independence.”
A tiny hole in her heart known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO) didn’t close the way it should after birth and triggered the stroke that day.
According to experts, it’s not uncommon to have a PFO and most people with the condition never know they have it. Schann was one of them and she said was unaware of her hidden condition.
She is now on a wait list for surgery which is expected to take place this autumn.
“I think there is still often a perception that strokes only occur in older people but we’re seeing them in younger and younger people but that’s not always picked up,” Macqueen Smith said.
Which is why Schann came forward to warn others to prevent someone else from going through the same loss.
“The nurses and doctors didn’t expect it at the time just because I didn’t have the regular symptoms so if someone else knows and I can help it, than it’s worth it.”
For more information on stroke signs and life after a stroke, visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website.
WATCH BELOW: The link between stroke and dementia
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.