Different Strokes

The misdiagnosis of a former President's illness shows the importance of recognizing symptoms

After former President Gerald Ford suffered one or possibly two mild strokes while attending the Republican National Convention last week, his doctors quickly predicted a full recovery. But his illness raised a troubling question: How could a team of specially trained physicians initially misdiagnose a stroke, especially in a former President, who, one assumes, always receives the very best medical care? The answer, unfortunately, is quite easy. Strokes are often misdiagnosed, even by excellent doctors, for a simple reason. Many symptoms commonly linked with stroke are also seen in other illnesses.

Take, for example, Ford's shaky balance. Onlookers noticed it as...

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