Migraine meltdown, stroke-like symptoms

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – After a reporter's gibberish live-shot made national headlines, doctors diagnosed her not with a stroke, but with a serious migraine headache. CBS reporter Serene Branson complained of a headache that day and said while reporting on the Grammy Awards she could not remember the word for Grammy.

"As soon as I opened my mouth I knew something was wrong...I knew what I wanted to say but I didn't have to words to say it," explained Branson.

Dr. Reynard Odenheimer, neurologist at Christus St. Patrick Hospital, said, "the concern is stroke or bleed. Seizures can also look like that."

He was not shocked by her diagnosis because he's seen it before. Diagnosing a migraine headache is not an exact science. "There really is no test for migraines and it is poorly understood," said Dr. Odenheimer.

Migraines are a vascular headache, rather than tension, caused by blood vessels constricting, cutting off blood, or dilating, flooding vessels leading to the brain.  Branson's episode is over, but she still remains at risk for more migraines and even stroke.

"The problem in treatment of migraines is the new wonder drugs all constrict blood vessels which also puts you at risk for stroke," said Dr. Odenheimer.

Other treatments are available like caffeine, sedatives or botox. Dr. Odenheimer has not seen much success with botox in his practice.

"There are people who respond to it, but its an aggressive near last choice option," he said.

He also warns Branson was lucky and people should not take stroke-like symptoms such as slurred speech and paralysis lightly.

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