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Westby woman shares stroke recovery story


WESTBY, Wis. (WXOW) – The CDC reports that one in 5 women in the United States will suffer a stroke in their lifetime.

Health officials record that there is a long list of what causes women to have a stroke. Some causes are high blood pressure during pregnancy, having a higher rate of depression and anxiety, or using certain types of birth control medicines, especially if they also smoke. 

Sara Marie Anderson, a young woman from Westby, suffered a stroke back in 2009 at the age of 27, while she was living in California. Anderson was in the ICU for six months before she could return home to Westby. Today, Anderson is 38, and still on the road to physical recovery through individualized yoga with a high-level yoga instructor. Her sessions focus on building back balance and strength.

Anderson said her neurologist informed her that her stroke most likely was caused by her pre-existing condition of being a migraine-aura-sufferer with the combination of taking birth control medicine.

“On June 30, 2009, all I could move on my whole body was my little baby pinky finger. That’s all I could move,” said Anderson.

Jennifer McElroy, a doctor at Mayo Clinic Health System, who specializes in osteopathy and an obstetrician-gynecologist, said there are multiple options for contraception. 

“The most important thing a doctor discerns when considering contraception for a patient is, what is the patient’s goal, what are they trying to achieve with this intervention, and then after that, I have to determine whether or not they’re eligible,” said McElroy.

McElroy said there is no universal answer to the wide range of contraception options; she highly recommends people discuss medical matters with their trusted healthcare provider.

Anderson wrote a book about her journey of stroke recovery, titled, Stroke: Overcoming My Worst NightmareAnderson said she is hopeful for what the future brings and is proud of herself for coming thus far.

“Don’t let life break you, everyone one of us is going to have challenges that are going to bend and maybe reshape us, just don’t let it break you, don’t let it break your spirit,” said Anderson.

Health officials recommend people talk to their health care provider about the chances of having a stroke, including your age and whether anyone in your family has had a stroke.

Lindsey Ford

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