Senator Edward Kennedy, the lone surviving son in a famed political family who helped define national Democratic Party politics, suffered a seizure at his Cape Cod home on Saturday and was recovering in good spirits at a Boston hospital.
Kennedy, 76, did not suffer a stroke and “is not in any immediate danger,” said Larry Ronan, the Massachusetts senator’s primary care physician.
“He’s resting comfortably, and watching the Red Sox game with his family,” Ronan said. “Over the next couple of days, Senator Kennedy will undergo further evaluation to determine the cause of the seizure, and a course of treatment will be determined at that time.”
Kennedy’s wife, Victoria, three of his children and his niece Caroline Kennedy were among those with him at the hospital.
On Saturday morning, Kennedy felt ill at his home and went to Cape Cod Hospital. After a discussion with his doctors in Boston, the senator was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he spoke to Kennedy’s wife in the afternoon and was told “his condition is not life-threatening, but serious.”
“But the one thing I can say, if there ever was a fighter, anyone who stood for what we as Americans, we as Democrats, stand for, it’s Ted Kennedy,” Reid said addressing the Nevada Democratic Convention in Reno.
In October, Kennedy had surgery to repair a nearly complete blockage in a major neck artery. The discovery was made during a routine examination.
The hour-long procedure on his left carotid artery — a main supplier of blood to the face and brain — was performed at Massachusetts General. This type of operation is performed on more than 180,000 people a year to prevent a stroke.
The doctor who operated on Kennedy said at the time that Kennedy had “a very high-grade blockage.”
Distinguishing between a seizure and a transient ischemic attack, TIA, often called a mini-stroke, can sometimes be difficult.
Seizures are little electrical storms in the brain. They tend to be brief; an occasional one can happen to anyone even without a prior history of seizures, especially if there has been some prior brain trauma.
Wendy Wright, an assistant Professor in the departments of Neurology and neurosurgery at Atlanta, Georgia-based Emory Clinic, said a lot of things can cause seizures, such as an infection or medication.
“Certain medications are known to cause seizures. A stroke can cause a seizure, a brain tumor or a head injury, or something in the brain itself,” Wright said. “Common symptoms that we know about are falling on the ground, shaking and having confusion.”
Kennedy, the second-longest serving member of the Senate, was elected in 1962, filling out the term won by his brother, president John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy eldest brother, Joseph, was killed in a World War II airplane crash. John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother Robert was assassinated in 1968.
Senator Edward Kennedy is active for his age, maintaining an aggressive schedule on Capitol Hill and across Massachusetts.
He has been vocal in both his opposition to the Iraq war and support for Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama.