Complex migraine symptoms are similar to stroke

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by KING 5 HealthLink

KING5.com

Posted on February 18, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

The Los Angeles reporter whose speech became garbled during a post-Grammys report turned out to have a complex migraine, but doctors want you to know Serene Branson's symptoms are nothing to take lightly. The diagnosis could have easily been a stroke instead.

The video has become a YouTube sensation: a reporter talking gibberish. KCBS reporter Serene Branson spoke out about it for the first time Friday.

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

Along with garbled speech during her live report, Branson remembers losing feeling in her hands and face. She was eventually diagnosed with a complex migraine which can can mimic a stroke.

"To tell the difference, you really probably can't do it at the scene of the crime, so to speak. You have to go to a hospital, get evaluated," said Neurologist David Tirschwell of the UW Stroke Center at Harborview Medical Center.

He added that these patients often have a personal or family history of common migraines and having one episode increases the risk for another.

"I would say it it would be unusual for someone to have just one complex migraine in their lifetime. said Tirschwell.

When is it appropriate not to go the ER?

"If you've had a whole bunch of them and they've always been the same and this is just like the other ones and they've never turned out to be anything else, you might be comfortable and it might be reasonable in consultation, with your doctor, to make a decision not to come to the emergency department," said Tirschwell.

In all other case, Dr. Tirschwell says treat it like a stroke, until proven otherwise.

Branson was welcomed back to the station by colleagues and plans to be back to work soon.

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