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Death By Hickey? It's Possible, But Not Very Likely, Experts Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A young man in Mexico reportedly suffered a stroke and died as a result of getting a hickey from his girlfriend.

While some may be skeptical about such a tale, as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez found out, it's not as far fetched as it sounds -- a nationally known stroke neurologist at New York Presbyterian Columbia said it is possible.

Rare, but possible.

Hickeys are practically a right of passage during our teenage years - so much so that they were even immortalized in a famous scene from the movie 'Grease.'

It's much less entertaining when a published report claims a man in Mexico City died after suffering a stroke that authorities attributed to a hickey from his girlfriend.

"A hickey is a bruise. It's an injury to the surface of the skin," Dr. Mitchell Elkind explained.

Dr. Elkind, a noted stroke specialist, said a skin bruise like a hickey would not lead to a stroke.

Surprisingly, there have been reports in medical journals of relatively minor trauma to the neck from coughing, sneezing, and roller coasters actually leading to a stroke.

Dr. Elkind said a hickey could conceivably lead to a stroke if the hickey was applied especially aggressively to a certain area of the neck.

"The carotid artery, which is one of the arteries that goes to the brain travels through the neck. so, if you were to press on or otherwise damage the neck in that area where the carotid artery is going, potentially they could cause enough injury to tear the blood vessel, and cause a blood clot to form that could go to the brain and cause a stroke," he said.

Dr. Elkind said this would be an extremely rare event, and parents have very little to worry about hickeys, strokes, and teens.

Some genetic, connective tissue disorders that might make the arteries especially fragile could be vulnerable to hickeys.




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