Recently at an event for the American Heart and Stroke Association, I met a fellow stroke survivor Lynn-Holly Johnson.
Lynn-Holly was the star of the movie Ice Castles in 1978 with Robbie Benson and was nominated for a Golden Globe. She was also in many other movies including the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only.
Lynn-Holly’s story is similar to mine as we both were young and healthy. Two years ago, Lynn was coming off an airplane with her parents and started to have her stroke right in John Wayne Airport. She had classic signs of stroke such as weakness and slurred speech.
Many people were around her and no one noticed that she was having severe stroke symptoms. When she got into a cab, her mother realized something was very wrong and had her rushed to Hoag Hospital.
The family learned shortly after that Lynn-Holly has a congenital PFO which stands for Patent Foramen Ovale. It is a hole in your heart that is supposed to close completely after you are born. Lynn-Holly’s did not. Her blood was clotting and instead of going to her lungs, three unoxygenated clots went through the hole, and into her brain. She is very lucky to have survived as many people do not recover from this kind of stroke.
She suffered memory loss and had to go to cognitive therapy for a year to get her memories back.
Lynn-Holly wanted me to make sure to tell the readers that it is believed that 25 percent of the population has PFO and that there are about 100,000 strokes per year from it.
It is a familial disorder, so if you have a history of PFO in your family, make sure to tell your doctor. Lynn-Holly works with the American Heart and Stroke Association to help raise money and awareness.
She recently was the speaker at the AHA Gala dinner.
Both of us want everyone to know the signs and symptoms of stroke as early detection can save your life.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face arm or leg, especially on one side.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Stroke can happen to people of all ages and health. Many of us including Lynn-Holly and me were just living our day-to-day lives when the stroke happened. Luckily for both of us, our parents were able to get us to the hospital in time to help us.
If you or someone you know are having these symptoms call 9-1-1. Note the time the stroke started as medication administered within three hours can reduce the damage that may be caused by stroke.
You can learn more about stroke by clicking here.
I had a great time meeting with Lynn-Holly and I hope that we can work together to spread the word about stroke awareness.