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Watch Me: Know the signs of a stroke so you can act fast

Olivia

Olivia Richardson is an American Heart Association volunteer and a stroke survivor. (Submitted photo)

Olivia Richardson
American Heart Association Volunteer

Did you know October 29th is World Stroke Day? Worldwide 1 in 4 people will experience a stroke; do you know the signs and symptoms? Act FAST. If you notice Face drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred Speech, then it is Time to call 911.

Olivia Richardson knows what it is like to not only experience a stroke but also a heart transplant. Olivia has always been an extremely active athlete, so she was shocked when she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy after experiencing her first stroke at age 25. After overcoming recovery of paralysis on her left side, doctors discovered that her left ventricle had an ejection fraction of only 10-15%.

In 2015, she had surgery to get a defibrillator as a precaution in case of sudden cardiac arrest. Everything was going well until 2018. A few days after her 30th birthday, Olivia endured a second stroke. She went to her local urgent care due to stomach pains but when employees found her passed out on the floor, they rushed her to the hospital realizing she was having a stroke. Once there, the doctors removed a clot in her brain. Still unable to keep anything in her stomach, Olivia’s parents brought her back to the hospital only a few days after leaving.

Olivia’s heart was beginning to go into heart failure, so doctors decided it was time for her to have surgery to place an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device). She then was not only recovering from her most recent stroke but adjusting to life with an LVAD.

In February of 2020 after only a month and a half on the transplant list, Olivia received a new heart. Even amidst a pandemic she has worked hard and has recovered beautifully.

Each year, the American Heart Association takes over Graffiti Alley in Baltimore on World Stroke Day to paint stroke awareness messaging and provide blood pressure screenings to the community. This year, due to safety precautions amidst COVID-19, we will not be taking over Graffiti Alley.

To learn more about how you can protect your heart and brain, click https://www.stroke.org/en.

Watch me act FAST.

Women Who Lead This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Women Who Lead: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Women Who Lead (formerly Path to Excellence) magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Women Who Lead.

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