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Young stroke survivor shares what symptoms to watch for. "Thought maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed."

Stroke survivor says look for these warning signs
Stroke survivor says look for these warning signs 04:12

NEW YORK -- The risk of stroke increases as people get older, but they can and do happen at any age.

Kyle McMorrow was just 36 years old when he suffered a stroke last year. He woke up with neck pain one day, not realizing what was happening. 

"I just thought maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, headed to work like a normal day -- or, at least, I thought it was a normal day -- and I realized I couldn't walk a straight line," he said. "It was very weird, it felt like there was a magnet on my left hip sort of pulling me in that direction."

He left work to see a doctor and, while he was on the way, called his girlfriend, who told him that he was slurring his speech.

Doctors at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center identified McMorrow was having a particular kind of stroke, called a bleeding stroke. He underwent brain surgery and months of rehabilitation.

"It was very scary for a long time, just the unknown of it all. I felt like I had lost a piece of myself, a lot had been stripped away," he said. "When Dr. Stieg and his team told me that they were able to go in and perform a surgery, instead of feeling tense about the word 'surgery,' it felt like relief, because it really felt like the first time that I could reclaim my life in having that surgery and getting back to it."

He recently celebrated one year of recovery with a vacation to Puerto Rico.

What are the stroke symptoms to watch for?

Doctors say remember the acronym: BE-FAST.

"'B' is for balance, like he said, he had a hard time walking. 'E' is for eyes, you know, do you have blurry vision or double vision? 'F' is for face, 'A' is for arm, 'S' is for speech, and he had all of those symptoms. Then, 'T' is for time, which time is brain," said Dr. Philip Stieg, chief of neurosurgery at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. 

Stieg said some risk factors, like gender, ethnicity and family history, are beyond control, but people should watch their cholesterol and weight. 

"You can do things with exercise, you can control your diet, you can control your sleep, trying to manage stress, all of those things are important," he said. "The happy part of it is have relationships, good dialogue and two glasses of red wine a day."

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every 3 minutes and 14 seconds, someone dies from one. 

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