▶ Watch Video: Study shows strokes are down among men, but not women

“Real Housewives of Atlanta” alum Nene Leakes revealed on Monday that her 23-year-old son, Brentt Leakes, suffered a stroke and congestive heart failure. In several Instagram stories, the reality star and actress spoke candidly about the incident, which she said took place two weeks ago.

“He’s only 23, so he’s really young for something like that to happen to him,” she said. “The first thing a lot of doctors think of when someone that age come in with that kind of condition is maybe they have done drugs or maybe they have some serious infection, maybe HIV or some sort of infection is what I’m being told by the doctors.” 

The 54-year-old said her son does not drink or do drugs and the doctors have run a number of tests but have yet to find the cause.

“They were thinking maybe he had caught COVID and he didn’t know that he had COVID,” she said. “He never knew [if] he had COVID, I’ve never known him to have COVID.” Studies have found that people with preexisting vascular risk factors could suffer a stroke while infected with COVID-19. One study by Thomas Jefferson University found “that COVID-19 patients with severe stroke tended to be younger and healthier than most severe stroke patients, and also had more difficult-to-treat cases.”

Brentt Leakes and NeNe Leakes attend The Linnethia Lounge Grand Opening on May 28, 2021 in Duluth, Georgia.

Prince Williams/Wireimage

Leakes, however, reiterated that doctors still do not know the cause of her son’s stroke but that his condition is improving. “He’s struggling with speaking,” she said, getting choked up. “I don’t know. I just know, keep us in your prayers.” 

Leakes’ husband and Brentt’s father, Gregg Leakes, died in 2021 after a long battle with colon cancer. In the Instagram video, she said the club the family opened together, Linnethia Lounge, may have to be sold. “This is just a lot right now on me,” she said. “It’s something I shared with Brentt after Gregg’s passing.” 

She added that Brentt FaceTimed her that morning and was in good spirits and has shown some improvement, but the family is still shocked. “If we knew the cause, obviously we could treat the cause,” she said, adding that it was “very scary.” 

Brentt Leakes, Nene Leakes and Gregg Leakes attend Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway With Nene and Marlo at Gio’s on November 19, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Prince Williams/WireImage

Brentt and Leakes’ older son, Bryson, 32, have both been featured on “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” a reality show on Bravo centered around women who live in Atlanta. Leakes starred on the show on and off since it began in 2008. Leakes is also an actress, and has had roles on “Glee” and “The New Normal.”

Strokes occur when something blocks blood supply to part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Strokes can cause lasting brain damage, disability or death. Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs, according to the CDC. 

While they can occur at any age, the risk of stroke does increase with age. The leading causes of stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and diabetes.