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Grateful Connecticut COVID-19 stroke survivor says knowing the symptoms could save your life


FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Dr. Don Higgins always put his health first. The eye doctor valued eating properly and staying in good shape. He did not think that COVID-19 was so serious.

“Kind of arrogantly said this is it, it’s not a big deal, I’m going to be inoculated I’ll be good what’s the big deal?” said 64-year old Higgins.

Then he got diagnosed with the virus. For the first seven days after testing positive, he felt fine and thought he was out of the woods. But on day eight, he felt very sick. On day nine, Higgins started experiencing double vision and balance issues.

“I wasn’t immediately thinking stroke, but I did think COVID was involved,” says Higgins.

Being a doctor himself, Higgins starting going over his symptoms in depth and realized he had signs of a stroke.

Neurologists are seeing a connection between COVID-19 infections and blood clots and strokes.

Doctor Daniyal Asad is the chief UConn nuerology resident. He says COVID can cause factors that promote blood clotting.

“It increases the propensity to form clots for a whole host of reasons,” says Dr. Daniyal Asad, the chief resident with UConn Health’s neurology residency program.

ER nurse Jaclyn Strickland acted quickly when Don arrived at UConn Health.

“I saw him walking in definitely unsteady. Once he made it to our triage chair he mentioned that he called ahead to I recognized him right away,” says Strickland.

Don had a blood clot in his brain. He was quickly triaged and given TPA, a clot busting medication that has to be administered in under five hours of the onset of symptoms.

Now doing fine, Don wants to spread the signs of stroke to everyone. He now takes COVID-19 seriously and urges people to get vaccinated.

“I am like I said in a debt of gratitude to the whole team including Dr. Asad very much,” says Higgins.

“It gives me goosebumps listening to you. The day I decided to become a doctor was precisely for this and I’m so very grateful for your kind words,” said Dr. Asad.

BEFAST is an acronym that Dr. Asad wants everyone to be aware of. Each letter represents a sign of a stroke symptom. “B” is for balance which can be off. “E” stands for eyes, which can have double vision. “F” is for face which can droop. :A” stands for arms that can be affected. “S” stands for speech which can be off. “T” stands for time, which is precious when suffering from a stroke.

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