While most people think strokes are only a health concern for older people, Jamie Forzato, now a WTOP radio reporter, learned the hard way they can also strike the young.

On the eve of her 19th birthday, in her dorm room at the University of Maryland College Park, Jamie felt flushed, had an intense headache and her vision became impaired. Her friends called 911 and Jamie was rushed to the emergency department at Washington Adventist Hospital. An MRI confirmed she was indeed having a stroke.

“We should be very concerned about the increasing incidence of stroke in young people,” Dr. Greg Mathews, a neurologist at Washington Adventist, told WTOP reporter Paula Wolfson.

Dr. Randall Wagner, chief medical officer at Washington Adventist Hospital and director of stroke services, says Jamie is lucky because her stroke was diagnosed in time to prevent extensive permanent damage.

He tells WTOP radio, “Time is brain. When people are having a stroke, the longer it takes to provide substantial care, the more brain is lost.”

Read Jamie’s full story here on wtop.com, or listen to Paula Wolfson’s report here.

Drs. Wagner and Mathews say it’s important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Common symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden trouble speaking.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. Learn more about stroke here.

Washington Adventist Hospital and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center are both designated stroke centers by the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS), highlighting the hospitals’ high-quality, coordinated care to patients suffering from a stroke.