A 27-year-old lady was instructed by an ER physician she was having a panic assault. She later came upon it was a stroke.

  • Christy Kirk had a stroke at 27. Medical doctors initially instructed her she was having a panic assault.
  • Medical doctors usually tend to misdiagnose strokes in girls and other people below 45.
  • Kirk has since made a full restoration. She has run 17 marathons since she had a stroke.

In 2003, Christy Kirk had a stroke at 27 — and docs initially thought she was having a panic assault. 

Kirk, a Boston-based dentist and marathon runner, was coaching for her first Boston Marathon on the time. She was in good well being, happening runs every single day after spending 5 to eight hours in dentistry faculty. 

At some point after coming house from a coaching run, Kirk started feeling “a little bit off,” and thought she might need run too onerous. A couple of minutes later, whereas sitting on her sofa, all the proper aspect of her physique went numb.

Kirk was experiencing a stroke, which occurs when the mind is disadvantaged of oxygen, brought on by a blood clot that went via a small gap in her coronary heart known as an atrial septal defect. 

She stated her eyes locked to at least one aspect, and she or he couldn’t communicate with out slurring her phrases. 

“I attempted to make use of my telephone to name my husband, however I spotted, once I needed to depart him a voicemail, I could not even type phrases,” she stated. “That is once I massively panicked.”

Strokes are a number one reason for dying and incapacity within the nation, based on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, and well timed therapy is important for stopping severe uncomfortable side effects. Stroke is the fifth main reason for dying for girls, and within the US, 1 in 5 girls between the ages of 55 and 75 can have a stroke.

However strokes are sometimes misdiagnosed in younger girls like Kirk. Folks below 45 and ladies are disproportionately extra prone to be misdiagnosed within the week previous to sustaining a debilitating stroke, based on Johns Hopkins. 

Medical doctors initially identified her stroke as a panic assault

After trying to name her husband, Kirk went to her neighbor and requested them to take her to the hospital.

Within the emergency room, Kirk stated she nonetheless couldn’t communicate with out stuttering, however her vitals had been regular and she or he regained the flexibility to maneuver her eyes. The ER physician identified Kirk with a panic assault and instructed her she “appeared positive.” He despatched her house with a prescription for an anti-anxiety medicine.

“I knew that I wasn’t an individual who panicked, I might by no means panicked in my life and every part was going very effectively for me at the moment,” she stated. “I known as a very shut good friend. She came visiting and stayed with me as a result of I used to be afraid, I assumed I would die at house alone.”

Christy Kirk

Christy Kirk (in blue) has accomplished 17 marathons since surviving a stroke.

Christy Kirk



A part of what led to Kirk’s misdiagnosis was that the blood clot in her mind brought on by the stroke was so small that it didn’t seem in an preliminary CT scan. Kirk adopted up with one other physician to get an MRI examination just a few days later, which offered a greater image of her mind to establish the problem. 

Kirk made a full restoration

Medical doctors handled Kirk with a minimally-invasive process that positioned a mesh-like instrument known as a septal occluder to shut the outlet in her coronary heart. Now 47, Kirk has run 17 marathons and a pair triathlons because the stroke, and has had 4 children.

Kirk stated the very fact she was younger and “tremendous wholesome and match” might need contributed to the misdiagnosis. “I did not appear like an individual who would have a medical drawback in any respect,” she added. However she nonetheless feels pissed off that the ER physician didn’t carry out extra checks when she knew one thing extra severe than a panic assault had occurred to her.

“It is an indescribable feeling when your physique will not behave and, it doesn’t matter what your mind tells it to do, it is malfunctioning and you’ll’t management it,” she stated. “I simply really feel actually fortunate and actually completely satisfied that I have been capable of keep wholesome all these years.”


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