BOSTON – Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the lone surviving son in a famed political family, suffered a seizure at his Cape Cod home Saturday morning but was recovering well enough by afternoon to watch a Red Sox game from his hospital room.
The 76-year-old Kennedy did not suffer a stroke, as was first feared, and doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital said he is not in any immediate danger.
“He’s resting comfortably and watching the Red Sox game with his family,” said Dr. Larry Ronan, his primary care physician. “Over the next couple of days, Senator Kennedy will undergo further evaluation to determine the cause of the seizure, and a course of treatment will be determined at that time.”
Kennedy felt ill at his home Saturday morning and went to Cape Cod Hospital. After a discussion with his doctors in Boston, the senator was flown by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was joined by his wife, Victoria, three of his children and his niece, Caroline Kennedy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he spoke to Kennedy’s wife in the afternoon and was told “his condition is not life-threatening, but serious.”
In October, Kennedy had surgery to repair a nearly complete blockage in a major neck artery. The discovery was made during a routine examination of a decades-old back injury.
The hourlong procedure on his left carotid artery – a main supplier of blood to the face and brain – was performed at Massachusetts General. This type of operation is performed on more than 180,000 people a year to prevent strokes.
Distinguishing between a seizure and a transient ischemic attack, often called a mini-stroke, can sometimes be difficult.
Seizures are little electrical storms in the brain. They tend to be brief; an occasional one can happen to anyone even without a prior history of seizures, especially if there has been some prior brain trauma. A stroke is either ischemic – a clog in a blood vessel – or hemorrhagic, bleeding in the brain. Hemorrhagic ones are very rare. Kennedy had the carotid artery surgery to try to prevent the ischemic type.