A Publication of WTVP

A young stroke survivor advocates for a more stress-free life.

It’s a known fact that stress isn’t a good thing. It can cause side effects like frequent headaches, trouble sleeping or changes in someone’s mood. But did you know it can cause more serious problems, too—like a stroke?

Signs and Symptoms
Tiffany Hinthorne of El Paso, Illinois, found that out the hard way when she started experiencing stroke symptoms at the young age of 35. On August 30, 2012, she and her daughter, Devyn, went to Devyn’s dentist appointment. As they were getting into their car, Tiffany suddenly felt a tingling sensation down her left arm. She tried lifting it, but couldn’t. Her arm was dead weight. The left side of Tiffany’s face was also drooping.

“I’ve taken medical classes to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke,” she says. “And I was experiencing two classic signs.” Slowly, Tiffany walked back into the dentist office to get help. “I told the office staff I thought I was having a stroke.” She was immediately rushed to a hospital in Normal, Illinois. “All I could do on the way there was pray,” Tiffany recalls. “I didn’t want to die, but when you think of stroke, you think of the worst.”

Once at the hospital, Tiffany was 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 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,” she explains. “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.’ They believed it was due to stress.”

Less Stress for a Healthier You
After she was released from the hospital, Tiffany was referred to an Illinois Neurological Institute specialist at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. The neurologist confirmed it was most likely stress that caused her stroke. At the time, Tiffany was going through a difficult divorce, putting her under an immense amount of stress.

“I didn’t realize stress was that big of a risk factor,” she notes. “I knew people could get sick or get rundown from stress, but I didn’t know it could cause a stroke.”

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,” she declares. “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.” iBi