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Mini Strokes

It was halftime in Houston a few Sundays ago when Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak hunched over, then dropped to his knees as he left the field for halftime.  Immediately he was surrounded by medical personnel and taken to a hospital.

“My understanding it that his diagnosis was a TIA, a transient ischemic attack, a small blood clot in one of the arteries of the brain, caused him to fall and collapse,” said Dr. Tarun Bhalla.

In other words, a mini-stroke, according to Dr. Bhalla, who is the Director of Cerebral Vascular and Endovascular Surgery at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville.  His specialty is any problem with the blood vessels of the brain, neck, or spinal cord.

Dr. Bhalla explained, the larger the blood vessel that’s blocked, the more of the brain that’s affected.

“He got very lucky in that it was a mini stroke.  But we don’t know whether it was mini because of the treatment he got, or mini to begin with.  But he was very lucky,” he said.

It’s unknown whether Coach Kubiak was experiencing any of the symptoms of stroke before he collapsed, such as paralysis or weakness, or difficulty with speech or language.  What is known is how quickly he was treated, with something called IV TPA.  That’s a drug that dissolves clots inside the blood vessel.  In most cases it’s administered in hospitals, but some paramedics do have access to it.

That Coach Kubiak got it very soon after the stroke was likely a factor in his quick recovery.  Dr. Bhalla says if he were his patient, he’d now look at what comes next.

“It could just be a warning sign.  We need to figure out why it happened.  Can we prevent the big one from coming?” he noted.

Dr. Bhalla also points out that diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can contribute to the narrowing of the arteries, which could then contribute to a stroke.  ESPN is reporting that Gary Kubiak is expected to make a full recovery.

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