- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Former President Gerald Ford suffered a stroke while attending the Republican National Convention but was described by doctors as “doing well'' Wednesday and thinking clearly.
Dr. Robert Schwartzman, chief of neurology at Hahnemann University Hospital, said the 87-year-old Ford had a small stroke that affected the base of his brain.
“There's a little bit of weakness in the left arm but his thinking is perfect,'' Schwartzman said. He said Ford was having a little trouble with balance and his words were slurred, but he seemed to be understanding everything.
Ford was in stable condition and expected to stay in the hospital for five or six days. He was undergoing tests and doctors said he appeared to have no brain damage. He walked into the hospital on his own, aides said.
“He'll have to be on medication but I think he'll do very well,'' Schwartzman said.
Ford first went to the hospital after Tuesday evening's convention session and was released within a half-hour with what doctors said at the time was an acute sinus infection.
But he returned to the hospital Wednesday morning. “I think he probably had a stroke maybe two days ago and had another little one'' overnight, Schwartzman said.
The doctor said the stroke was not detected earlier because “it looks like an ear infection.''
Asked whether the former president had suffered brain damage, the doctor said, “No, I don't think so.'' He said the effect of the stroke was being felt “mainly in his balance center.'' He also said he doubted there would be any permanent disability.
Ford's wife, Betty, was with him and the doctor described her as “very upset but fine.'' He added that Mrs. Ford told the doctors, “Take care of him.''
Ford himself was described as “very calm.''
“I think this will all clear, mainly in his balance center, in the back of his brain,'' Schwartzman said. “That should all recover.''
Former President Bush, also in Philadelphia to see his son accept the Republican nomination, said in a statement, “Barbara and I are hoping and praying for the quickest possible recovery.''
“It was a joy to sit next to him at the convention last night,'' Bush said. “Once again, we were reminded of his dececncy and all that he did at a crucial time in our nation's history.''
Ford, Bush and former President Reagan were honored during the second night of the convention. He told CNN's Larry King in an interview broadcast Tuesday night that he's “looking forward'' to living longer.
“I couldn't be healthier,'' he said. “Betty and I are having a magnificent life: 52 years of married life, four great children, 15 grandchildren. Everything is breaking just right and I am delighted to be here at this convention after going to so many for so many years.''
Strokes strike about 600,000 Americans each year and are the nation's third-leading cause of death, killing 160,000 victims annually. On average, someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 53 seconds.
It occurs when brain tissue dies because of lack of proper blood flow and oxygen.
The most common type is caused by a blood clot in the brain. The good news is that rapid treatment of this type of stroke with clot-busting medication can reverse a stroke's injury to brain cells, allowing patients to dramatically improve.
Strokes also can be caused when a blood vessel abruptly bursts in the brain, destroying nearby brain cells.

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