ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- Dealing with medical conditions as a young adult can be very stressful. Simply knowing your family health history can make a big difference.
Aqualyn Laury loves helping others reach their wellness goals, but she has a few extra challenges of her own. As a college student, during a walk across campus she felt a strange "pop" and her vision became extra vivid. She tried to ask a classmate about a previous assignment.
Laury says, "I listened to myself, and I said 'blll-bll-blllubll' and I was like, in shock. Because I knew what I was trying to say."
Aqualyn was having a stroke. And because she focuses on staying fit, this caught her completely by surprise.
Laury says, "To have that happen so suddenly was really devastating."
The stroke was caused by a series of blood clots. Those clots caused a tumor that grew inside the heart, a myxoma. It destroyed one of her heart valves.
A genetic disorder causes the blood clots. What she didn't know, it was inherited. The disorder proved to be deadly to many of her ancestors.
"What I learned coming out of the hospital was that my grandmother, the youngest of ten, lost all of her siblings to strokes," adds Laury.
Aqualyn says it's very important to learn your family history. She is on a blood thinner and gets constant echo-cardiograms, which monitor her heart performance. She stresses to her friends that heart issues do not discrimiate, it can affect people of all ages.
"The key thing that I tell people is 'no matter what, before your children leave the house, make sure they know their history. Their medical and their family history. Just so that they can be more aware of signs if something happens.