26-year-old spreading awareness about signs of stroke after her survival

Kayla Sacco and her husband were driving home from her parents’ house, when something unusual happened.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 2:42 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:57 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Kayla Sacco and her husband were driving home from her parents’ house, when something unusual happened.

“I had a pain in my neck so I popped it to relieve some of the pressure, just like I would do any normal day. When I did that, I had a very sharp pain in the back of my head and then my arm dropped,” Sacco said.

Calling 911 and getting to the hospital quickly was the lifesaving move for Sacco.

“I knew the signs of a stroke when my arm dropped a lot, it wasn’t just weak, it was completely dead weight. And then when I tried to speak, I couldn’t speak, and my husband said when I turned my head to him the right side of my face was drooping, so in that moment he knew it was most likely a stroke as well,” Sacco said.

“But that time is brain, just like it’s your heart, when you’re having a heart attack and you’re having a heart attack, that’s muscle that’s dying. That’s the same thing for your brain. The longer you wait, the more damage to your brain it’s going to occur,” Kirt Noel, a paramedic for Acadian Ambulance, said.

Noel had seen young stroke patients a few times throughout his career, but said Sacco is the youngest he’s had in the last 15 years.

“But you could tell her anxiety, her worry, you know she was just in need of comforting, and sometimes comforting is just as much as medicating,” Noel said.

“I was really scared, because obviously with this you automatically think of all the deficits that can happen. Are these going to be permanent or these things that are going to get better,” Sacco wondered.

In the five months since her stroke, Kayla has been in the hospital twice and both in-patient and out-patient rehab to re-learn how to walk, drive and even read and write.

Her doctors said a pre-existing condition caused her first stroke.

“I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos syndrome when I was 12 years old, which is basically a collagen disorder. Your collagen isn’t as strong as it’s supposed to be, and so with that comes weaker veins and arteries. Whenever I popped my neck, it dissected my vertebral artery,” Sacco said.

Sacco had three strokes in one month and is still recovering today.

But said she’s doing better than many thought she would.

“And I just started driving again, which is exciting, I’ve started going into work a little bit in person. I’m just trying to get into my old routines because that has also helped my memory as well and so, what was I saying? That that happens a lot of memory is a big part and that’s only going to take time,” she said.

Sacco has a lot of time left to recover and in the meantime, wants people her age to be aware of their health.

“And I feel like my journey has had a purpose and that I can speak out and be an advocate and bring awareness to strokes at any age,” Sacco said.

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