MONTGOMERY, Ohio - A local heart and vascular specialist says Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker got an early "warning sign" with his mini-stroke that could, if he plays his cards right, save and prolong his life.
A mini-stroke is defined by doctors as a small stroke where disability symptoms like weakness on one side or slurred speech occur, but then quickly disappear with no lasting effects.
"A mini-stroke is a TIA, or a Transient Ischemic Attack, that occurs when a little blood clot breaks off from the heart and travels up to the brain," said Dr. Stephen Lewis of the TriHealth Heart Institute.
"They may have been slurred speech. It might have been the right or the left side of his body becoming weak or flaccid. He could have had dropping of his eyelids. He could have had an uneven smile. any of these could be a sign of a real stroke and a mini-stroke is a fortunate event, in that it goes away," added Dr. Lewis.
It's likely Baker may be prescribed a blood thinning prescription drug to try to dissolve any blood clots before they break off and reach the brain again, according to Dr. Lewis. He says Baker can live a long life and avoid any full blown strokes by taking prescription medicines and following his doctor's orders on changing his lifestyle and habits to reduce his elevated stroke risk.
There is also a lesson in what Baker went through for the rest of us. Lewis says everyone need to take stroke warning signs seriously and react immediately by calling an ambulance and going directly to a hospital emergency room without waiting.
Lewis says medicine can do more to help victims of mini-strokes or full blown strokes, if they get medical attention in an emergency room within three hours of the first symptoms.
Baker was originally admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, commonly referred to as an irregular heartbeat. Dr. Lewis says atrial fibrillation increases the risk of having a stroke.
As Baker was being discharged on Friday, he suffered a mini-stroke and immediately was treated by the hospital's stroke team, which minimized the effects of the stroke, according to the Reds. Baker returned to Cincinnati Sunday, and the Reds say his condition has improved dramatically.
"While at Wrigley Field I was blessed to have our trainer, Paul Lessard, have the good sense to call in Cubs team physician Dr. Stephen Adams, who examined me in the clubhouse, immediately determined how serious by condition was and personally rushed me to Northwestern Memorial Hospital," Baker said in a statement from the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.