The shocking news that Hailey Bieber had been rushed to hospital with “stroke-like symptoms” broke back in March—she was released from hospital shortly afterwards, and made a brief statement at the time about the “small blood clot” she had suffered on her brain. She added that she was recovering well and grateful to the doctors and nurses who had taken care of her.
Now, the 25-year-old model has shared the ins-and-outs of what really happened, in a candid 12-minute video posted on Instagram on Wednesday. “I’m making this video because I wanted to tell the story, in my own words, of where I’ve been at health-wise for the last month,” she says, luminous skin and neon manicure all present and correct. “I had a very scary incident on March 10.”
While chatting with her husband, Justin, over breakfast, Bieber suddenly “felt a weird sensation” that travelled from her shoulders to her fingertips, which made them feel really “numb and weird”. When Justin asked her if she was okay, she struggled to form words to reply, and the right side of her face started to droop. “I thought I was having a full blown stroke,” she says. And so did Justin.
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After being whisked to hospital by ambulance, Bieber underwent a series of tests—but by this point her symptoms had subsided. She later learned that she had suffered a small blood clot on her brain—called a TIA, or temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain—otherwise known as a mini stroke. “It was definitely the scariest moment of my life—there were so many things running through my head,” she admits. “My body was able to resolve it pretty quickly and I didn’t have any more issues for the rest of the day. I felt thankful and grateful that it wasn’t worse.”
Her medical team initially put the blood clot down to a “perfect storm” of circumstances, including a recent bout of COVID-19 a long flight to and from Paris, and finally a switch in birth control. “I had just started a birth control pill that I shouldn’t be on because I suffer from migraines anyway—and I didn’t talk to my doctor about it. So make sure you tell yours, ladies.”
Myriad follow-up tests found that in fact, one of the reasons she had suffered the mini stroke was because she had a grade 5 (“the highest grade you can have—[it was] fairly large”) PFO, or patent foramen ovale, which is a small hole between the heart’s two chambers. “What typically happens is that the heart filters the clot to your lungs, which deal with it because they’re so big,” she explains in her video. “What happened with me is my blood clot escaped through the hole in my heart and it travelled to my brain, and that is why I suffered a TIA.”
To remedy it, she had a procedure to insert a “small button that closes the flap in the heart”, which stays there forever. “It went very smoothly, I’m recovering really well, I feel great” she says in the video.
Bieber also revealed how the experience prompted an understandable flare-up in her anxiety, symptoms of which made her worry that she was suffering another stroke. “My anxiety was making me feel funny,” she says. “[It would] make my hands and fingers feel kind of tingly.”
Bieber—who concluded by empathising with anyone watching who had experienced something similar—joins the likes of Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner (both friends) in choosing to address her health issues in a frank and honest way on social media. Like all good Gen Z-ers, these young women subscribe to the mantra that when it comes to health—mental or physical—it’s good to talk.
This article first appeared in British Vogue.