healthHealth and Medicine

Can Hickeys Really Cause Some People To Have A Stroke?


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Can this kill you? Sure, but it would have to be the "mother of all hickeys," according to a physician. Peter Bernick/Shutterstock

As was widely reported this week, a teenage boy from Mexico City died from a stroke than many have attributed to a love bite or “hickey” from his girlfriend. After having convulsions while eating dinner with his family, 17-year-old Julio Macias Gonzalez was treated by emergency medical services but sadly died at the scene.

Local media reports suggest that doctors think the suction effect of the love bite resulted in a sudden blood clot, which ultimately migrated up to his brain and caused the fatal stroke. The boy’s girlfriend, who the parents blame for the incident, is currently thought to be in hiding. At present, there is no conclusive evidence that the love bite in question did cause the stroke, but it is fair to say it’s incredibly unlikely for a teenager to suffer from one, let alone a fatal one.


According to the Independent, there has only been one similar case beforehand, when a 44-year-old New Zealand woman experienced loss of movement in her left arm. When she was taken to hospital, they found that a bruise on her neck, caused by a hickey, likely damaged a major artery. This damage led to a blood clot, which traveled to her heart and caused a minor stroke.

USA Today endeavored to ask a doctor whether or not the science holds true in this case. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that in order to damage an artery that badly so as to cause a blood clot, it would have to be the “mother of all hickeys.”

“It’s possible this could happen, but it's very rare, and parents should be reassured it’s not something that happens in a routine way,” he said.

“Any sudden motion of the neck including a vigorous cough or sneezing, or even aggressive manipulation by a chiropractor could lead to a carotid artery dissection. This is essentially how a hickey could lead to a stroke.”


Essentially, then, you’d have to be incredibly unlucky, particularly at a young age. If you are a fan of giving hickeys, perhaps it’s best to be a little gentle if you aren’t sure how powerful your jaws actually are.

[H/T: USA Today]


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