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February 18th, 2011
Stroking Reporter Didn't Stroke

Serene Branson's garbled speech during a live Grammy broadcast last Sunday was not the result of a small stroke as many have speculated but was instead a symptom of a "complex migraine," according to her physician, Dr. Neil Martin, chief of neurosurgery at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

A complex migraine can mimic the symptoms of a stroke, with weakness, loss of vision and difficulty speaking, in addition to a headache. It is often mistaken for a stroke.

One theory about the cause of complex migraines is that blood vessels in the brain suddenly narrow, or spasm, and then dilate again. When they dilate, the headache develops. But during the spasm phase, certain parts of the brain receive too little blood, causing the stroke-like symptoms. The neurological symptoms are nearly always temporary. 




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