One survivor shares her story to spread heart health awareness

(Lia Sestric/WCIV)

By Lia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV){}-- Stroke is the nation's number{}four killer and a leading cause of long-term disability.

On average, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every{}four minutes someone dies from one.

In 2010, Heather Morrill had a stroke, just two days shy of her 38th birthday.

"I never had hypertension there's no stroke in my family. I can't believe it happened to me," she said. "I feel like it's a bad nightmare. Thankfully, I woke up and end up being a dream to be here functional and relatively normal."

Heather said the symptoms came on suddenly, first with a headache, then nausea and dizziness. They persisted several days before she went to MUSC.

"She came to MUSC and we did some imaging and found out that one of the blood vessels to her brain was injured, and it was cutting off blood flow to her head," MUSC Dr. Raymond Turner said.

Doctor Turner is the co-director of MUSC's Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center, where Heather underwent neurosurgery.

"She caught her signs soon enough," Dr. Turner said. "Her stroke wasn't the typical stroke where the blood vessels were completely blocked off, her blood vessels actually tore. Even though it was narrowed, she could get some blood flow to the brain, but not enough."

Surgeons had to reconstruct her blood vessel with using seven stents.

"If she didn't get this treated she would have likely gone on to have more strokes and gone into a coma and this could have been a fatal injury."

Heather who is a wife and mother of three says she has learned to live every day to the fullest.

"It makes you appreciate that at any moment it can be taken away from you and thankfully my minute was taken away from me but it was given back."

The Go Red Movement encourages heart health here in the Lowcountry.

On Wednesday they are holding kick off event with a luncheon and a series of educational seminars and compelling guest speakers.

The event will be held from 10:30 am to 1 pm at Memminger Auditorium, downtown Charleston.