During a fairground attraction, a 37-year-old American woman felt unwell. Headaches, dizziness… She had a stroke while she was on the merry-go-round. The explanations of Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical director of TipsForWomens, on this extremely rare case.
It’s a ride that ends badly for a 37-year-old American. While on the attraction, she feels unwell and loses coordination in her muscles on the right side of her body. Coming down from the merry-go-round, she suffers from dizziness and has difficulty moving around properly.
A stroke caused by attraction
Seeing the state of the young woman, her husband immediately takes her to the hospital. But the doctors misdiagnosed and believe that it is dizziness caused by an inner ear problem. The couple then leaves with a prescription for anti-nausea. But he will be back 48 hours later, the condition of the young woman not improving.
An area of the brain, close to the cerebellum, affected by the stroke
In this case study published on August 26, researchers from the University of West Virginia report that the state of health of the American is worrying. Indeed, his heart rate and respiratory rate skyrocketed, and his blood pressure, which was already high, had also jumped.
The patient is also a smoker, with an average of one pack per day smoked for ten years. By giving him a brain scan, the doctors discovered the stroke, locating on the images an area of dead tissue near an artery used to supply the right side of the cerebellum. This part of the brain regulates muscle movement and balance.
Twenty strokes caused by an amusement ride around the world
The case of this woman is extremely rare. Indeed, it is estimated that since the creation of fairground attractions, 20 strokes have been attributed to them, worldwide. “In a merry-go-round, there are significant speed variations and accelerations, which causes an acceleration of the cardiac output and an increase in the intracranial pressure, when one is upside down. If in addition this patient was hypertensive and a smoker, she had additional risk factors for stroke. Dr. Kierzek estimates.
For this patient, doctors have not been able to find the exact cause of the stroke, although they suspect it was caused by an embolism, which is an artery whose flow is blocked by a blood clot that has migrated from another part of the body. They prescribed him medication to control his post-stroke headaches and reduce his risk of developing heart disease. However, she is not completely out of the woods because six months after this event, another scanner revealed a bulge in the wall of an artery which feeds her cerebellum, on the right side.
What are the signs to be aware of in the event of a stroke?
Among the most common symptoms are:
- Muscle weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg. Frequently, there is paralysis of the arm and the leg on the same side, which will be the side opposite that of the cerebral lesion;
- Visual disturbances which can manifest themselves in different ways with loss of half of the visual field, loss of vision in one or both eyes, or even doubling of vision;
- Language difficulties resulting in the impossibility of articulating correctly, an impossibility of speaking or a poor understanding of words;
- A loss of sensitivity ranging from simple numbness to anesthesia of a part of the body;
- Unusual and very violent headaches without apparent cause, accompanied by nausea;
- Loss of balance, with falls, dizziness, lack of coordination of movements;
- And sometimes disturbances of consciousness, from drowsiness to coma.
To help the general public remember these signs, the French National Federation and the Heart and Arteries Foundation have launched the campaign “AVC, VITE le 15!” with the acronym FAST which means:
- V as paralyzed face;
- I as inertia of a limb;
- T for speech disorder;
- E as in emergency, call 15!