Senator Reid recovering after stroke

Sunday, August 21, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada is recuperating after a brief mini-stroke that caused no complications but that he waited three days to disclose.

Reid, 65, a gold miner's son who rose to become one of the nation's most powerful elected Democrats, saw a doctor in Las Vegas after feeling lightheaded Tuesday evening, aides said Friday. He was told he had experienced a kind of mini-stroke called a transient ischemic attack.

"There are no complications or any restrictions on his activities," said press secretary Tessa Hafen. "He has undergone evaluations this week, and his doctors have recommended that he take advantage of the summer congressional recess for some down time."

Reid, who became leader of the Senate's Democratic minority in January, canceled several public events Friday and Saturday in Nevada and remains in Las Vegas with family members, Hafen said.

He is not hospitalized, and is expected to be able to resume his normal schedule by the time Congress returns from its summer recess on Sept. 6, she said.

Asked why an announcement of the event was delayed for three days, Hafen said, "The reason was the tests and the evaluations that they were doing. We wanted to make sure we knew what we were announcing. You need conclusive information."

On vacation in Texas, President Bush was told of Reid's situation. "The president is glad to hear that Sen. Reid is feeling fine and looks forward to working with him this fall," said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

Reid was in his hometown of Searchlight, Nev., in the desert about an hour south of Las Vegas, when the episode occurred Tuesday evening. At the urging of his wife, Landra, he went to Las Vegas that night to see a doctor, Hafen said. She would not comment on whether he was hospitalized overnight.

"He honestly has been feeling fine this week, he was just doing some tests and running some evaluations," the spokeswoman said. "He has run 12 marathons (in the past). He's in good shape."

Reid had never had a previous episode of this kind, Hafen added.

A transient ischemic attack is described by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as a transient stroke that lasts a few minutes and occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted.

Symptoms including weakness and dizziness usually occur suddenly and are similar to those of stroke, but usually disappear within an hour, though they may persist for up to 24 hours.

The National Stroke Association says one in three people who experience such an episode go on to have an actual stroke.

Reid was chosen to lead Senate Democrats at the beginning of the current congressional session after the previous minority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, lost his 2004 re-election bid. He had been the Democratic whip -- the No. 2 position -- for six years before moving into the leadership role. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois succeeded him as whip.

Reid has represented Nevada in the Senate since 1987 and was re-elected last year with 61 percent of the vote. He served in the House from 1983-87.

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