Young stroke survivor advocates for a stress-free life

It’s a known fact that stress isn’t a good thing. It can cause many side effects, like frequent headaches, trouble sleeping or changes in someone’s mood. But did you know chronic stress can aggravate common risk factors for stroke such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and lead to unhealthy habits such as smoking and obesity?

Tiffany Hinthorne, of El Paso, Illinois, found that out the hard way when she started experiencing stroke symptoms at the young age of 35.

Classic signs

On the morning of August 30, 2012, Tiffany and her daughter, Devyn, went to Devyn’s dentist appointment. As they were getting into their car to go home, Tiffany suddenly felt a tingling sensation down her left arm. She tried to lift it, but couldn’t. Her arm was dead weight.

Tiffany also noticed the left side of her face was drooping as she looked in the rearview mirror.

“I had taken previous medical classes to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke,” Tiffany said. “And I was experiencing two classic signs.”

Tiffany, slowly but surely, walked back into the dentist office to get help.

“I told the office staff I thought I was having a stroke,” Tiffany said. “They gave me an aspirin, and they called my mom who worked at an office building across the street.”

‘When you think stroke, you think the worst’

Tiffany was immediately rushed to a hospital in Normal, Illinois.

“All I could do on the way there was pray,” Tiffany said. “I didn’t want to die, but when you think of stroke, you think of the worst.”

Tiffany walked into the Emergency Room and told them she thought she was having a stroke. She was immediately rushed back to a room where the care team began running tests.

Her blood pressure was sky high – 180 over 123. From the CAT scan results, Tiffany had two lesions on her brain, which meant she had a stroke prior to that day.

“The doctors told me I had one lesion on the front of my brain, and one in the back,” Tiffany said. “But there was no bleeding in my brain, and the lesions didn’t need to be removed.”

Tiffany’s heart was also checked, and it looked healthy.

She stayed overnight in the hospital for further monitoring.

“The doctors kept saying ‘Well you had a stroke, but we are still puzzled as to why.’” Tiffany said.

At the time, Tiffany was going through a difficult divorce – putting her under an immense amount of stress which may have contributed to increasing her risk factors for stroke.

Stress less, for a healthier you

After she was released from the hospital, Tiffany was referred to an OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute specialist at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.

Tiffany’s experience reminds us that strokes can happen to anyone at any age.

Knowing and managing your risk factors can help prevent a stroke.  Knowing the signs of stroke and calling 911 immediately at the first signs of stroke can make a difference

Today, Tiffany has no residual effects from her stroke, and is thankful for her health.

“Life’s too short to let stress get you down,” Tiffany said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can have a stroke or heart attack. If you aren’t feeling well, don’t push away the signs. Get help right away.”

Last Updated: March 8, 2019

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