How Did I Have a Stroke in My 20s?

Waking up to a pounding headache after a bachelorette party, The Daily Beast's Elizabeth Gates chalked it up to the revelry. Then she found she couldn't speak. Three months later, she writes about having a major stroke at an unthinkably young age.

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By Elizabeth Gates

On May 1, I suffered a stroke. Overnight I lost my ability to speak, write and read. I'm not overweight and I don't have high blood pressure. I'm not overdosing on steroids and I don't take birth control. And I'm not in my 70s -- I'm in my 20s. From everything I heard in health class, I was poised for optimal health.

I was doing everything right. Juicing every day? Check. Pescatarian? Check. Yoga? Check. Stopped smoking cigarettes (almost)? Check. Calling home once a week? Check.

How the hell did I have a stroke?

"She has a carotid artery dissection in her neck. Four other women were admitted today for the same thing. All under 30." I woke up as my neurologist was explaining this to my mother. Carotid arteries are located on both sides of your neck. They send oxygenated blood to your brain, but in my case I formed a tear and mine dissected, limiting the amount of oxygen flowing to my brain.

"She's been losing oxygen in her brain for two weeks prior to the stroke," my neurologist said. It's lucky I didn't have the dissection on my right side, he told me, because I wouldn't know anything was wrong with me. I could lose my speech center and carry on, thinking I'm fine.

Read the entire story in The Daily Beast.

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