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At just 22 years old, Jake suffered a stroke. Two days after leaving hospital, he had another. This is his story.

On Sunday 10 March, I was drinking at a mate’s house with my partner and some friends until about 4am. I got about 2 hours of sleep and then woke up with a bit of a headache. As I got up to get Panadol from the other side of the room, I fell over.

My part­ner looked at me, and I stood up and reas­sured her, I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m just drunk.” Then I took anoth­er step and fell again.

My partner took a better look at me and said: “No, there's something wrong, Jake.” She could see that my face was drooping. As I tried to move, I couldn’t lift my left arm or leg.

The ambulance arrived within 15 minutes and, because I got to the hospital so quickly, I was given the clot-busting drug, thrombolysis, which was fantastic. The stroke I had was ischaemic, meaning I had a clot in my brain, but no bleeding.

An angiogram, where they went through my groin up to my brain with a camera, confirmed that the clot had definitely been broken down. The drug worked so well that I was looking forward to play in my cricket grand final two weeks later. Yet two days after leaving hospital, I suffered another stroke.

This time, I waited in Emergency for 6.5 hours and by the time I was seen by a doctor, I had missed the opportunity for thrombolysis. I had to be airlifted to a Melbourne hospital, where the plan was for the surgeons to perform a clot retrieval, where I remained for a week.

I have now near­ly ful­ly recov­ered phys­i­cal­ly from my stroke, but the anx­i­ety and fear of anoth­er one will always be there.

The stroke has changed things for me in a few ways. I fatigue easily, and suffer from anxiety. I can’t play hard contact sports like AFL, which is disappointing, but I do play basketball and cricket. I don’t drink as much as I used to. I would say I’m more cautious and careful. I think I've become more of a sentimental person. I want to help educate the community about stroke and help prevent others from having a stroke.

Doctors were a bit confused about why this happened to me. I didn’t have any risk factors for stroke. I was 22, had no family history, and didn’t have high cholesterol or blood pressure. I guess it just goes to show how complex this can be. While I was able to stop taking clopitogrel, I now take preventive medication to keep my cholesterol and blood pressure low.

One quote that got me through the tough times was that: “Life's like a game of poker; you get good hands and bad hands, but how you play them is up to you.”

How is HRI helping?

Pioneering research by our Thrombosis Research Group is focused on finding safer, more effective therapies to treat ischaemic stroke. Studies by HRI scientists have already discovered a novel drug class that can safely reduce dangerous blood clotting. They will test this novel drug in combination with thrombolysis to improve the dissolution of damaging blood clots that block blood flow to the brain. The ultimate aim of these studies is to reduce brain damage and improve outcomes post stroke-recovery.

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