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Gloucestershire student, 20, speaks of shock at suffering stroke

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: July 23, 2012

IN RECOVERY: Jennie Cosh, from Stoke Orchard, wants young people to recognise the symptoms of a stroke

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STUDENT Jennie Cosh has spoken of her shock at suffering a stroke at the age of 20.

The journalism student, from Stoke Orchard, initially had no idea what was wrong with her as she suffered a splitting headache, dizziness, blurred vision and a high temperature while eating dinner with her parents.

Not knowing what was going on, she went outside her home in an attempt to cool down but struggled with her right leg.

She took a combined aspirin-pain killer tablet, but when symptoms persisted her parents took her to the doctor where she was diagnosed as having had a stroke.

Now in recovery, she said she wanted to urge people to watch out for symptoms of the condition because if it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone at any age.

"It couldn't believe it when they said I was having a stroke," she said.

"I just didn't think it was something that could happen to someone as young as me.

"I knew there was something not right. I couldn't feel anything on my right side and had this pain at the back of my head.

"But I just didn't associate any of it with having a stroke.

"I'm 20 years old and am pretty healthy. I don't smoke, don't drink and I don't do drugs. It just didn't seem to fit.

"But as it turns out I was really lucky. The aspirin I took straightaway helped to thin the blood, lessening the impact of the stroke.

"And when I got to my doctor he sent me straight to A&E for a scan where they were able to confirm what they already suspected."

After a week spent in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital's stroke unit, Jennie is back at home and making good progress in her recovery.

She has regained 70 per cent of the feeling in the right side of her body and is improving every day with intensive physiotherapy and a course of blood thinners.

Doctors have still not been able to put their finger on the exact cause of the June 26 stroke.

But Jennie has called on people to learn from experience – because recognising strokes at an early stage is crucial to recovery.

"I want people to realise that it can happen to you, whatever age you are," she added.

"You see the advert on TV and it's quite an old man. But it wasn't like that with me at all. It was just a really strange feeling down the right side of my body.

"I am still recovering from what happened and getting stronger all the time.

"I have regained about 70 per cent of the feeling I lost and I'm doing everything I can to make sure I get that back to 100."

She added that she has taken heart from stories of other young patients who have suffered from the same condition.

They include Paralympic athlete Mel Nicholls, from Bishop's Cleeve, who suffered three strokes before the age of 30, and pop star Jessie J, who had a stroke at 18.

Dr Liz Mearns, medical director at NHS Gloucestershire, said it was vital to recognise the signs of a stroke as quickly as possible.

"A stroke can happen at any time and occurs suddenly," she said.

"Although most people affected are over the age of 65, anyone can have a stroke, including children.

"Early recognition of the symptoms will enable people to get the vital emergency help they need, which means lives can be saved and disabilities prevented."

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