Supermodel Hailey Bieber has spoken openly about the emotional trauma she endured last year after suffering a “mini-stroke” in her 20s.
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, but differs from a full-blown stroke in that the frightening effects are short-lived.
Typically, these strokes last a few minutes and usually leave no permanent damage — but in Ms. Bieber’s case, the fear of it happening again haunted her.
The hospital Ms. Bieber was sent to after she experienced numbness in her arm and fingers confirmed she suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA), known as a mini-stroke
A mini-stroke, known medically as a transient ischemic attack, occurs when a blockage occurs in a person’s cerebral artery and denies blood to the brain. It has the same symptoms as a normal stroke, but goes away on its own within 24 hours
A TIA presents with the same frightening symptoms as a stroke: weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the face, arm, or leg, usually on one side of the body; slurred or garbled speech or difficulty understanding others; blindness in one or both eyes or double vision; and dizziness or loss of balance or coordination.
Ms Bieber, who quickly called a doctor last year, said her symptoms eased relatively quickly after she first started experiencing numbness in her arm and fingers.
She said on The Run-Through with Vogue podcast last week, “I struggled with a lot of anxiety after that.
“I struggled a little bit with PTSD, as well as the fear that it might happen again.
“It was so terrifying, so shocking, so confusing in every way you can imagine.”
The risk of stroke increases sharply with age.
About 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year. Just under 250,000 of them get a mini-stroke.
Neurologists view TIAs as warning signs of a bigger, more devastating stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.
One in three people who get a TIA will have a stroke afterwards, about half of them within a year after the TIA.
Unlike a regular stroke, those who suffer a TIA experience temporary symptoms that resolve within 24 hours, though sometimes in just minutes.
One in seven strokes occurs in people ages 15 to 49, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 2013 report published in the journal JAMA Neurology found that 10 to 14 percent of ischemic strokes, including transient strokes, occur in adults ages 18 to 45.
The risk of stroke doubles almost every 10 years after age 55, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, about one in seven strokes occur in adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 49.
A mini-stroke can occur for several reasons.
For example, a buildup of fatty deposits in the blood vessels around your body can cause a clot that leads to a stroke, a process known as atherosclerosis.
A transient ischemic attack, commonly known as a mini-stroke, is caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain
Another type of clot that can lead to stroke is related to heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat. AFib can cause a clot in the heart that then travels to the brain.
The risk of a major stroke is highest in the days and weeks immediately following the transient attack, so it is critical for the patient to find out what caused their TIA as soon as possible to reduce future risks.
The exact cause of Ms. Bieber’s mini-stroke is murky, though she said doctors pointed to her recent diagnosis of Covid coupled with two transatlantic flights in a short space of time and the fact that she had just been given birth control pills as causes of the underlying blood clot.
Estrogen in birth control pills is known to cause blood clots that can lead to stroke.
Women who use oral contraceptives are twice as likely stroke than their counterparts who don’t take them, although that population is already so small that a doubled risk does not mean the risk is high, especially among women without other risk factors such as a cigarette smoking addiction and a history of hypertension.
The survival rate of a mini-stroke, especially among younger people, is high. Although suffering from a TIA seems to have negative effects on a person’s overall lifespan.
A 2011 report in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association found that suffering from a TIA can lower life expectancy by 20 percent. TIA had only a minimal effect in patients under 50 years of age, but significantly reduced life expectancy in patients over 65 years of age.