“Never been sick in my life” – so how could she have a stroke?

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

”   The doctor showed me an x-ray of my brain. He pointed to a small spot and told me, ‘That’s where the blood vessel burst in your brain!’ It was surreal.”

My heart sister Dina Piersawl (affectionately known to some of us as Dee Mad Scientist) had just celebrated her 41st birthday when she survived an ischemic stroke. A professional scientist – and a former athlete and personal trainer in Chicago who describes herself as “never been sick in my life” – Dina sure didn’t look or feel like any stereotypical stroke patient you might imagine.

Like me, she is a graduate of the WomenHeart Science and Leadership training at Mayo Clinic, and now helps to educate other women about our risk factors for stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. As she said recently:

“It’s very important to me to share my story with others to try to prevent someone else from going through what I went through. It happened to me. It can happen to anybody. Education is the key!”

Dina reminds us that high blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant risk factor for having a stroke. Other risks that we can start managing include:

Learn more about what you can do to address women’s unique risk factors for cardiovascular diseases from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

And watch Dina tell her compelling story about an important risk factor for stroke – one that she had no idea she even had.

Q:  Have you or somebody in your immediate family survived a stroke?


NOTE FROM CAROLYN:   I wrote much more about becoming a patient with cardiovascular disease in my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” . You can ask for it at your local bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon – or order it directly from Johns Hopkins University Press (use their code HTWN to save 30% off the list price).

See also:

Cathy’s stroke: “Nobody noticed my husband”

Stroke survivor Sharon Dreher: “Don’t use a 1-10 pain scale on women who have delivered a baby”  (another kind of stroke you’ve likely never heard of) 

When the woman who won’t call 911 is your mother

Love your morning coffee, ladies? It may help prevent a stroke

Heart and Stroke Foundation info on controlling high blood pressure

4 thoughts on ““Never been sick in my life” – so how could she have a stroke?

  1. I am so happy to have this blog as a reference, and to share with other women. Thank you Carolyn Thomas, and all the women who share their stories! – I’m a brave heart and know how important this information is. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I believe that every woman’s story will resonate with some person reading/hearing it who, until now, may have believed she was the only one feeling this way!


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