23-year-old man suffers mini-stroke during COVID-19 battle

A Valley man’s COVID-19 survival story has gone viral after the 23-year-old came down with an unusual symptom – a mini-stroke.

Riley Behrens spent several days in the hospital and is now at home recovering from COVID-19.

He’s sharing his survival story in hopes of informing other young adults about the real possibility of suffering a stroke as a result of COVID-19.

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Behrens says he took a COVID-19 test on a Saturday, then got the results the following Wednesday that he was positive. That night he noticed a persistent headache.

"I had chest pain and shortness of breath Thursday and Friday," he said. Saturday, one week after getting tested, is when he thinks he may have had what’s called a mini-stroke.

"I was super weak on my left side. My grip strength decreased, I couldn’t balance on one leg and my vision was spotty," he explained.

He tried to brush it off but eventually went to the emergency room, where he was quickly admitted to the hospital.

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"We did the MRI Sunday and came back and said it sounds like a TIA, transient ischemic attack. The difference between a TIA and a regular stroke is that it’s temporary so the blood clot dissolves on its own and symptoms get better. So I’m slowly getting better," Behrens said.

He says his doctor told him they are seeing more and more young adult COVID-19 patients suffer strokes.

"I was in disbelief. I called my dad, and I’m like, 'I’m 23 and this isn’t real,'" he said.

Behrens posted about his experience on social media, and it went viral – in a good way. He’s been contacted by many others who had the same experience. Now, he’s hoping his viral post will spread awareness.

"You have to take this seriously because you can go from 100% to 20% in two days," he said.

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Doctors say it’s important to immediately go to the emergency room or call 911 if you think you’re having symptoms of a stroke. If you wait too long to get treated, you risk permanent brain damage.

Symptoms of a stroke include sudden weakness on one side, sudden loss of balance, sudden confusion, and sudden loss of vision.