Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will miss at least six weeks after having a stroke last week, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manger Ray Shero.
The condition is treatable with blood thinners and at this point is not believed to be career threatening.
Further testing also revealed that Letang, 26, has had a very small hole in the wall of his heart since birth. This small defect in the wall is present in all individuals before birth but seals shut in most people. It is possible that the hole in the heart led to the stroke
The Internet armchair doctors will be quick to tell you all about Transient Ischemic Attacks,
which actually sound worse than “mini-stroke.”
A good friend of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, is studying pre-med. He sent this over:
Transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is the medical term for neurologic symptoms, such as weakness or numbness, which begin suddenly, resolve rapidly and completely, and are caused by a temporary lack of blood in an area of the brain. TIAs are common, affecting at least 240,000 people each year in the United States.
Some people call TIAs "warning spells" because anyone who has a TIA is at risk for a stroke. As a result, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of TIA and seek treatment as soon as possible.
This is also of concern:
Risk of stroke after TIA — The risk of stroke after a TIA is highest in the first few days to weeks after the TIA. For example, the risk of having a stroke in the first two days after TIA has been estimated to be 4 to 10 percent. People with certain characteristics are thought to have a higher risk (eg, closer to 10 percent) of stroke compared to people without these characteristics.
This Letang injury hits close to home for NHL fans who can recall the situation Brian Mullen, Joe Mullen’s brother, dealt with back in 1993 and 1994 at the age of 31:
On August 9, 1993, Brian suffered a small stroke caused by a blood clot in his brain. The stroke severely impacted his motor skills and he required open heart surgery. Mullen was recovering well and his reflexes largely returned to normal. He hoped to one day return to action in the NHL but a subsequent seizure in 1994 ended his dreams of a comeback and he was forced to retire from hockey. [ Wikipedia
But in August of 1993, after returning to New York from San Jose to play for the Islanders, Mullen suffered the stroke that ended his career and nearly cost him his life after a blood clot in his leg traveled into a hole in his heart.
"I couldn't tell hot from cold for two weeks and had slurred speech," says Mullen, who underwent surgery to seal the chambers of his heart. "They went in and closed the hole. They cracked my chest wide open and it didn't heal for six weeks. I desperately wanted to play, but the Islanders didn't want me to."
Moving on, here’s an article from 2009 about a 19-year-old Arksansas wide receiver who suffered a mild stroke. To show how rare this is among athletes, the writer of the story got quotes from Brian Mullen. [ Akansas.Scout.com
NFL fans will remember that Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke this past season. [ USA Today
Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker suffered a mini stroke in 2012 and as a result watched Homer Bailey no-hit the Pirates on TV. [ ESPN
Now is not the time to speculate about what this means for the Penguins. It’s a time for Kris Letang and his family to focus on his recovery.