Hickeys? Wasps? Strange things can cause strokes

CBS News

In August, a 17-year-old Mexican boy reportedly died of a stroke that resulted from a hickey, according to Hoy Estado de México, a local Mexican news source. As strange as it sounds, his case was not the first of its kind: A 44-year-old Maori woman in New Zealand also had stroke caused by a so-called love bite (another term for a hickey).

The woman survived her stroke after being admitted to an emergency room, doctors wrote in their report of her case, published in The New Zealand Medical Journal.

Most strokes are caused by a blocked artery that cuts off blood supply to the brain. These strokes, called ischemic strokes, are usually the result of blood clots, which may form in the heart or large arteries leading to the brain. According to the American Heart Association, only about 13 percent of strokes are the other type, hemorrhagic strokes, which are caused by a rupture in an artery that leads to bleeding in the brain.

In the cases of both the boy in Mexico and the New Zealand woman, the hickey might have damaged the blood vessels in the neck, which ultimately might have led to the stroke, said Dr. Thomas Hemmen, a professor of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in either case. [You] can come up with all sorts of scenarios [for] how you can cause a rupture of an artery,” he said.

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