At 28, Tech Survives Four Strokes: Here’s How He Battled His Triggers Stress, Anxiety

Watching Akshay teach meditation techniques to his peers, give motivational talks and create boundaries in his work life to spend quality time with his family, you wouldn’t guess that he has battled the worst trauma anyone could imagine. The 28-year-old from Madhya Pradesh has already suffered four strokes, but lives each day with a bounce back and is determined to fight through an uncertain future. I’m not an escapist anymore. Now I know how to take care of my mental health and not tie myself in knots of anxiety, says the technician. whose stroke it was caused by extreme stress.

Akshay was unable to process the emotional troughs of losing his father, breaking up with his partner and managing his loneliness during the Covid years. What started with panic attacks gradually pushed him into hyper-anxiety, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which studies have shown can increase the risk of strokes by 59 percent .

Akshay is one of the many young Indians who are experiencing strokes at an early age. A recent study in Scientific Reports has said that the prevalence of stroke has increased by 50% over the past 17 years in India. Currently, one in four people are at risk of having a stroke in their lifetime. A new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD), 2021, singled out stroke along with Alzheimer’s disease as responsible for increasing the number of people who live or die by 18 % in 30 years.


Dr. Praveen Gupta, senior director and head of the neurology unit at Fortis, Gurugram, was not surprised when Akshay consulted him. Every day I see at least two stroke patients, who are under the age of 40. Its triggers are always the same, with stress, overwork and anxiety topping the list, followed by obesity and sleep apnea. Recently, I had a 12-year-old patient who had suffered a stroke, he says, adding that the number of cases has increased in the past two years.

Stress, Dr. Gupta explains, makes the heart work harder and increases heart rate, blood pressure, sugar and fat levels in the blood. It stimulates the body to produce more stress hormones, which causes inflammation, damage and breakdown of the lining of blood vessels and the formation of clots with platelets that build up. A dislodged clot can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Akshays anxiety levels were so high that his body was in permanent crisis mode, leading to sudden spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, he adds. Even a slight increase in stress and anxiety levels can increase the risk of stroke, according to a study by the American Heart Association. Researchers followed more than 6,000 people for 22 years and found that those with the highest stress levels were 33% more likely to have a stroke than those who felt less anxious or stressed.

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Another reason behind it strokes among the young population it is homocysteine, an amino acid that coagulates the blood more quickly. High levels of homocysteine ​​correlate with moderate to high levels of anxiety. You could also be deficient in certain B vitamins, says Dr. Gupta.


Akshay was so devastated by his father’s death in May 2019 that he bottled up his emotions and left his hometown and took up a job in another city. But this distance plunged him even more into loneliness. Everyone had someone to cry with. I was all alone and my emotions were all over the place, he says. His need for companionship was such that he entered into a relationship too soon. This provided him with some emotional relief. That’s why when he broke up with his partner, he crumbled again. This was when he showed classic PTSD symptoms, having nightmares about his father and waking up sweaty and out of breath. My heart was racing so much that I saw a cardiologist in August 2020. He put me on anxiety meds for two months. But then all hell broke loose. Apart from taking classes and interacting with my students online, the lack of human contact meant I fell back into a tailspin, recalls Akshay.

By February 2021, he needed a psychiatrist, who recommended antidepressants and sleep medication. In April of the same year, he had COVID-19. His D-dimer test, which indicates blood clotting problems, was twice normal. That was the first red flag. Some people with COVID-19 develop abnormal blood clots, including in smaller blood vessels. And Akshay had older triggers anyway, says Dr. Gupta.

The second red flag was in September 2021, when Akshay had an episode of distortion, which his psychiatrist misdiagnosed as a panic attack. On October 9, 2021, Akshay had a blackout, his first. But because he revived within seconds, she thought he had collapsed from exhaustion, which is not uncommon among those recovering from a bad bout of COVID. Just three days later, he had a major stroke. He felt dizzy, blacked out and lost feeling in his right limbs. I was riding a bike that day and I was saved in time. My friend took me to a neurologist and an MRI showed two clots, says Akshay. He had had an MCA (middle cerebral artery) stroke. This supplies a large portion of the brain’s frontal, temporal and parietal lobes, which control many functions, including movement, sensation, coordination and language, says Dr Gupta.

Akshay returned to his hometown and it took him two and a half months to regain feeling in his body. But he had to give up his teaching job because he couldn’t speak fluently.


After recovery, Akshay took a job as a content moderator in a social media company. For two years, nothing happened, his anxiety was under control and little by little he was weaned off the medication. A company in Gurugram offered him a job that he was excited about and he decided to move there permanently. But on January 31 this year, Akshay had an episode of vertigo. Tests showed mild strokes and he was given anticoagulant injections for four days.

But on February 2nd I felt anxious, dizzy and thought my head was going to explode. Brain scans showed two clots and I resumed blood fluid injections for six days. Exactly ten days later, on February 12th, I had a blackout at a mall and got dirty again. This lasted for 10-15 seconds. He put me on blood thinners and increased the dose of other medications. Then on March 9, I slipped while trying to get off a train in my hometown. I was unable to move my right hand and leg again. I was in the hospital for five days and the dizziness was constant, says Akshay, who decided to consult Dr Gupta in Gurugram.

Dr. Gupta found the real problem: Akshay was becoming drug resistant. In these cases, we have to keep rotating and changing the medication. Usually, when strokes happen in young patients, there are problems with the heart, such as a hole, blood clots, and deformed arteries. Thankfully, Akshay doesn’t have all that and will be fine now. But a stroke patient can have secondary strokes if triggers like blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, diet and exercise aren’t aggressively addressed, he adds.

Akshay is now on dual anticoagulants that will prevent clotting by two mechanisms. He is also taking medication for mild high blood pressure, statins and clonazepam to relax his brain and help him sleep better.

However, I now have a more holistic approach to my health, as medication can only prevent a flare-up, but a lifestyle change can prevent it from reaching the limit in the first place. I eat lots of green vegetables, avoid high cholesterol diets, and exercise for 30 minutes a day. I don’t smoke or sleep properly, says Akshay, who is learning to prioritize himself over his problems.

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