Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) Suffered an Ischemic Stroke Saturday

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Sen. Mark Kirk underwent surgery Monday after tests revealed he has suffered a stroke, according to a statement from the Illinois Republican’s office. Kirk, 52, checked himself into a hospital in Illinois over the weekend.

Senator Mark Kirk’s office has report that he has suffered an ischemic stroke and underwent surgery to minimize swelling on his brain Monday morning. “On Saturday, Senator Kirk checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital, where doctors discovered a carotid artery dissection in the right side of his neck,” his office said in a statement.

“He was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where further tests revealed that he had suffered an ischemic stroke,” it said. “Early this morning [Monday], the senator underwent surgery to relieve swelling around his brain stemming from the stroke. The surgery was successful.

“Due to his young age, good health and the nature of the stroke, doctors are very confident in the Senator’s recovery over the weeks ahead.”

Mark Kirk, 52, is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a member of the Republican Party. He holds the senate position that was previously held by President Barack Obama. During his fifth term in November 2010 he won a special election to finish the final months of former Senator Barack Obama’s term and he began a six-year Senate term in January 2011.

Kirk was a member of the United States House of Representatives (elected in 2000), representing Illinois’s 10th congressional district until November 29, 2010.

Ischemic stroke occurs because of a loss of blood supply to part of the brain, initiating ischemic cascade — a series of biochemical reactions that lasts from two or three hours to several days. When oxygen or glucose becomes depleted in ischemic brain tissue, the production of high energy phosphate compounds such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) fails, leading to failure of energy-dependent processes (such as ion pumping) necessary for tissue cell survival. Axon release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate builds up accompanied by the failure of its uptake carriers. The process sets off a series of interrelated events that result in cellular injury and death.

Carotid artery dissection occurs with small tears of the tunica intima — the innermost layer lining of the arterial wall. Blood can leak into the tears and clot. The problem can cause blockage of the artery or can cause breakage of clots that travel to the brain — disrupting blood supply. About 70% of patients with carotid arterial dissection are between the ages of 35 and 50, with a mean age of 47 years.

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