Over the weekend, the 25-year-old model told her fans what happened on her Instagram stories and said it was "one of the scariest moments I’ve ever been through."
"On Thursday morning, I was sitting at breakfast with my husband when I started having stroke-like symptoms and was taken to the hospital," Bieber wrote. "[The doctors] found I had suffered a very small blood clot to my brain, which caused a small lack of oxygen, but my body had passed it on its own and I recovered completely within a few hours."
In the U.S., strokes are the fifth cause of death and leading cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association. It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either "blocked by a clot or bursts." Usually when this happens, the American Stroke Association says, part of the brain can’t get the blood and oxygen it needs.
Board-certified emergency medicine physician and ABC News contributor Dr. Darien Sutton said there are three types of strokes. He said he believes Bieber had a transient ischemic attack, or "mini-stroke."
"That’s when blood supply is temporarily reduced," Sutton said. "And that can cause symptoms lasting anywhere from minutes to up to 24 hours."
What was perhaps most shocking in Bieber’s case was her age, as strokes usually occur in older adults.
"It’s incredibly uncommon for a patient who is young and healthy to present a stroke, as it predominantly occurs in those over the age of 60," Sutton said. "But I will say, given the pandemic, we’ve seen increased rates of COVID-19 associated with cardiovascular disease as well as stroke."
Last month, Nature published an article about a massive study in which researchers found that the rates of many conditions such as heart failure and stroke "were substantially higher in people who had recovered from COVID-19 than in similar people who hadn’t had the disease."
The risk was elevated for those who were younger than 65 and lacked risk factors such as obesity or diabetes.
Bieber’s health scare comes one month after her husband, Justin Bieber, contracted COVID-19. The singer, who has since recovered from the disease, had to postpone multiple concert dates on his Justice World Tour, including a show in Las Vegas, which was later rescheduled to June.
While Bieber is now home and thankful for the care she received from doctors and nurses, Sutton said the model did the right thing and encourages people to take note of the signs and symptoms of stroke.
"We all know the typical symptoms of a stroke, which can include sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, but I want to help clarify some other important symptoms," Sutton said, pointing out that other symptoms can include sudden changes in speech, sudden changes in vision, sudden severe headache or acute dizziness.
"If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to get help," Sutton added. "An important tip is to take note of the time. When you get to the emergency room, we ER doctors are going to want to know how long these symptoms have been going on, and it helps direct our clinical care."