Two months ago, Jordan Ward nearly died. The 26-year-old, busy with work and wedding planning, was suffering from headaches, blurred vision, vomiting and nausea.
"Honestly, I was just very overwhelmed with a tension headache," she said.
She refused to see a doctor until her fiance forced her to go the emergency room. Doctors thought she had migraines and sent her home, but the symptoms persisted.
The couple returned the next day. A CAT scan revealed something Ward couldn't believe.
She suffered a kind of stroke, where a large clot blocked a network of veins in her brain.
"When I did get the news, I was in shock. I'm 26 years old," Ward said.
The cause? Oral contraceptives.
Dr. George Teitelbaum, the medical director of the Providence Neurovascular Center, said oral contraceptives containing hormones raise the risk for dangerous blood clots, especially if a woman smokes, which Ward did.
"The brain swelling can become severe enough that somebody can be thrown into a coma. They can even die," Teitelbaum said.
Teitelbaum and his team removed the clot during an endovascular procedure. Eight days later, Jordan left the hospital without any neurological effects.
She credits her fiance's persistence for saving her life. Their June wedding is going on as planned.
"I'm so thankful for so many things, but especially for the fact that I still get to marry the man of my dreams," Ward said.
Ward urges all women who take birth control pills to talk to their doctor to understand their risks.
"I would just want people to really read those label signs. Listen, dig deeper, try to gain an understanding, because you could save your own life," she said.
Teitelbaum recommends avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol and making a conscious effort to stay hydrated.
26-year-old woman suffers stroke caused by birth control