Noah and his mom rushed to the emergency department at North Shore University Hospital. There, the medical team started IV medications to treat a suspected migraine, and he was given imaging scans of his brain to rule out other problems. “I’m named after my paternal uncle who died from a brain tumor before I was born, so I was terrified that might be my fate, too,” he said. “I was panicked!”
Although the scans didn’t reveal a problem, Noah was admitted into the hospital and received a more advanced CT angiography (CTA). This scan uses an IV contrast dye to produce 3D images of the brain’s blood vessels that aren’t visible on a routine CT scan. This time, the results showed the remnants of damage from a small blood clot. The 21-year-old had suffered an acute ischemic stroke.
A stroke temporarily blocks the flow of blood through an artery in the brain. The neurologist who treated Noah, Jeffrey M. Katz, MD, told him that he was fortunate that the blood clot that caused his stroke narrowly missed the part of his brain responsible for high motor function. “He told me I was lucky in the location that it hit,” Noah said. He’s also grateful for the North Shore University Hospital emergency department doctors. “I owe my life to the doctor who decided to admit me and run additional tests.”
Noah received IV medications to reduce the chances of another clot and stayed at the hospital for three days under Dr. Katz’s care. “I had to perform certain facial exercises with the nurses like frowning and smiling to check for signs of another stroke,” Noah recalled. “The nurses knew how scared I was. They helped me forget my worries for a while by joking around and making me laugh, which eased my anxiety.”
Dr. Katz also ran blood tests to see if Noah was genetically predisposed to clotting. Those tests came back negative; however, Noah did have several other stroke risk factors including his history of chronic migraines. In addition, Noah’s mom had been treated for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a dangerous blood clot that forms in a leg artery, and years after that suffered a pulmonary embolism, a clot that travels to the lung. Because of that family history, Dr. Katz recommended that Noah start taking a baby aspirin every day to prevent new clots from forming.