‘I thought my head was going to explode’: Local woman shares story of survival after suffering strokes

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CLEVELAND -- She was just 34 years old, but Cristin Klonowski was having a stroke and didn’t know it.

"I was overweight; I'd go out to eat all the time, fast food," Klonowski told FOX 8. "It was in the middle of the night in January and I woke up to just a blast of a headache; I thought my head was literally going to explode," she continued.

Klonowski was initially told she was suffering from migraines, was given medications and told to go about her daily life.

But after suffering for months, she finally got the diagnosis from a neurologist.

"They had learned that one of the arteries in my brain had dissected or torn that night and I had two strokes."

Klonowski said she never thought it could be a stroke because of her age.

But, in reality, doctors say it can happen at any age, to anyone.

Doctor Joseph Patrick Hanna, chair of neurology at MetroHealth Medical Center, said, "You can have a stroke even before you're born. You can have a stroke in utero -- in the mom -- you come out and you have a deficit or you can have a stroke as a baby or as a young adolescent."

But Dr. Hanna said most strokes occur in older people.

The biggest risk factors are smoking and high blood pressure.

"It's silent, but it causes damage to vessels. It's like plumbing, you know, you have the pipe -- too much pressure in the pipe too long, the pipe ruptures."

According to the AMmerican Heart and Stroke Assoication, if you suspect someone is having a stroke, think F.A.S.T., which stands for face drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech, time to call 911.

As far as prevention, quit smoking, make sure you exercise, and eat a healthy diet.

Klonowski does weekly meal preps and has taken up a hobby of furniture restoration.

She also credits her 14-year-old son, family and her boyfriend for keeping her motivated to live a healthier life.

"It altered my life, and I know live with a new purpose."

***More on the American Heart and Stroke Association here****

**Hear more from Klonowski in the Facebook LIVE, below; she appeared on FOX 8 Extra with Stefani Schaefer Tuesday morning.**

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