Twin women living in Arizona suffering strokes within nine months of each other is rare enough; add to that the fact that the women are only 26 years old, and the story is just incredible.
Kathryn Tucker says she had just gone to bed one night when she felt a sudden sharp pain in the back of her head; things began to go numb on the right side and her vision started to black out. Tucker, who had a history of migraines, wondered if that could be the culprit. She went to the hospital, where doctors came to the same conclusion and sent her home.
“I was absolutely terrified,” she said. “I slept for three days straight. Then, when I woke up, my vision was horrible. Everything was distorted and one-dimensional. I could barely get around.”
Tucker immediately went to an urgent care facility for tests and was shocked when she learned she’d had a stroke. Nine months later, her twin sister Kimberly suffered the same fate, only her stroke occurred on the left side.
“Honestly, it’s rare for us to actually evaluate two sisters who’ve had strokes within months of each other,” said Dr. Joni Clark, a vascular neurologist at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. “If they had a family history, it would not be a surprise. It’s quite uncommon.”
Both twins were smokers, were on birth control, and drank excessive amounts of caffeine, although doctors say there’s no link to caffeine causing a stroke. Both women survived their ordeals, but say they’ve had to make serious lifestyle changes in order to maintain their health, including chucking the cigarettes and caffeinated drinks.
Doctors say they are seeing younger stroke patients these days due in part to a lack of exercise and a lifestyle similar to the Tucker twins’.
“The risk is increased for decades after their stroke,” said Dr. Frank-Erik de Leeuw of the Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands. “So we can’t just send them back to their homes and say, ‘Well, we’ve seen you now for one or two times after your stroke — take care.’ I think that’s not possible anymore.”
Image: Barrow Neurological Institute