A RUNCORN mum feared she was being ‘dramatic’ before she suffered a stroke.

Jessica Tierney, who says she is lucky to be alive, is now raising awareness of the life-threatening condition.

The 29-year-old is warning others that they are never too young to have a stroke.

Paramedic initially put her symptoms down to a panic attack or Bell's palsy - a temporary paralysis of muscles in the face - before scans showed a blockage in her brain.

The mum-of-two then eventually underwent surgery to remove the blood clot.

Jessica, who works in teaching recruitment, claims she had none of the traditional risk factors for stroke as she was a healthy weight, stayed fit and did not smoke.

She told the PA news agency she was experiencing shoulder pain while driving to work one morning in February, but put it down to a strain from her pole fitness class.

Things progressed on her lunch break when she developed a headache and her mouth and tongue went numb on one side.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

"I was eating my dinner and started developing a headache in my temples," she said.

"I took some paracetamol and it wouldn't go away. At about 2.30pm, I collapsed.

“It was a good job I wasn't at home alone."

After being taken to hospital, Jessica waited until 7.30pm for a CT scan which showed a blood clot. Another scan at 8pm revealed a blockage in the brain.

By then, Jessica said she was ‘outside the window’ for thrombolysis, a treatment which disperses a clot and is given within four-and-a-half hours of stroke symptoms first appearing.

Another treatment, known as a thrombectomy, surgically removes blood clots from the artery. They are usually performed within six hours of symptoms appearing, but the window can be extended to 24 hours in selected patients.

She said: "We were waiting quite a while. At this point, I'd been told I had a clot on my brain so I was quite scared."

She was transferred to The Walton Centre, a specialist neurology facility at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

Jessica told PA that Dr Souhyb Masri, a consultant interventional neuroradiologist at the centre, ‘fought her corner’ when her treatment options were being discussed.

"He said the thrombectomy would be the best outcome as I was 29," she added.

Dr Masri said: "Whenever someone experiences a stroke, getting it treated in the right way quickly is of paramount importance.

"Jess having the procedure means she can rehabilitate as best she can, and I'm confident she will continue to recover well."

In October 2021, The Walton Centre became the first facility in the north west to offer thrombectomies to stroke patients 24/7 and it has since carried out almost 400 procedures.

Jessica  described staff at The Walton Centre as amazing and said she feels lucky to have the facility nearby, adding: "I could have died or it could have been life-changing.

"It's actually quite scary to think if it wasn't on my doorstep what would have happened."

She spent six days at Aintree University Hospital following her surgery and is now recovering.

Following surgery, she said: "I woke up and I couldn't really feel my right side. I'm managing it better, you start adapting your life around that.

"I have physio about three to four times a week. I have to use a walking stick and can do a few steps, but then I have to use a wheelchair."

Speaking of the moment she was told she had had a stroke, Mrs Tierney said: "I went into shock and got a bit upset. I still haven't really processed it now, to be honest."

According to the NHS, you are more likely to have a stroke if you are over the age of 55, although one in five occurs in younger people.

Jessica admitted she thought she was ‘being dramatic’ when her symptoms materialised, but stressed: "If you get constant headaches - I used to - just get checked. Better to be safe than sorry."

Following the stroke, Jessica has also been told she has a hole in her heart.

"Because I'm a young stroke, I'm not overweight, I'm fit and healthy, they checked everything," she said.

"They did a test where they put a camera down my throat and found it.

"They think the clot was in my blood, has gone to my heart, through the hole and to my brain."

Jessica said her husband David, 39, has handled it 'so well'.

The couple have two sons, James, 11, and Max, six.

David is now hoping to raise funds for The Walton Centre by climbing Mount Snowdon in Wales, alongside the families of other stroke victims, later this year.

Jessica hopes she can get involved in fundraising in the future.

"That's my goal," she added.