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Fmr. Pres. Ford Hospitalized: Dr. David Owens Discusses Detecting Strokes and Determining Their SeverityAired August 2, 2000 - 2:28 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We are expecting an update on the former president's health from Philadelphia in just a matter of minutes, but first we want to talk to Dr. David Owens. He is an interventional radiologist. His specialty: detecting strokes and determining their severity. He was part of the team that treated the late U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia, who died of a massive stroke two weeks ago.
What would be, if any, the difference between what happened to the senator and from what you know so far is happening to President Ford?
DR. DAVID OWENS, INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGIST: Well, the senator's stroke was quite different from most strokes. Most strokes are problems with arteries getting to the brain so you can't get blood to the brain and you have the stroke.
The senator's problem was actually a problem with thrombosis, or clot within the vein, so you could get blood to the brain, but you just couldn't get it out, and that is what caused his stroke.
In this case, we don't have a lot of details, but it sounds as if this is arterial based, which is the more common type of stroke that we see.
WATERS: It was described by the doctors at Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia as affecting circulation at the base of the brain, and the symptoms were balance problems and, what else? weakness of his left arm, slurring of speech. That is typical?
OWENS: Well, most likely what he is having is what we call a posterior fasa (ph) stroke. You all know what your carotids feel like here, but there are also two blood vessels that go up the back of your neck. Those go up to something called the Basler (ph) artery, which is at your brain stem. And the Basler artery is what is responsible for helping you keep your balance, for helping you breathe, and for other very vital functions. It sounds as if that is what he may have.
WATERS: What causes this?
OWENS: Well, you can have any number of causes. One of the causes can be a hardening of the arteries, just like we see in the heart and other parts of the body. If you have hardening of the artery within the Basler artery, then that is a pretty serious thing. More likely, he is probably throwing little tiny bits of this plaque or clot that can occur anywhere in the heart or any of the blood vessels that supply going up to the brain.
WATERS: And to what do we attribute this hardening of the artery, anything to do with hardening of the hardening?
OWENS: You have it and I have it. Anyone in this country over about 30 or so, because of our diet, we tend to have little plaques, and, as we age, most people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s begin to have narrowing of bloods vessels in their heart, as well as the blood vessel here in the carotid.
WATERS: Dr. David Owen, with a hospital here in the Atlanta area. He is an interventional radiologist. And he has agreed to stay with us for a few moments. We are expecting an update on the former president's health in a matter of minutes, perhaps we will have more to go on then and more to analyze.
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