CBS Reporter Serene Branson Appears to Have Stroke on Live TV

Serene Branson slurred and jumbled her words; some wonder if she had a stroke.

ByABC News
February 14, 2011, 3:30 PM

Feb. 14, 2011— -- The video was difficult and upsetting to watch. As Serene Branson, a young and healthy-looking CBS Los Angeles reporter, delivered a live report from the red carpet of the Grammy awards Sunday night, her speech suddenly became slurred and incomprehensible. She appeared increasingly worried and aware that something was wrong while she was on the air.

Mike Nelson,a CBS spokesman, gave the following statement: "Serene Branson was examined by paramedics on scene immediately after her broadcast. Her vital signs were normal. She was not hospitalized. As a precautionary measure, a colleague gave her a ride home and she says that she is feeling fine this morning."

But after watching the clip, several doctors said that Sunday night's events caught on tape should not be taken lightly.

"[That's a] pretty scary clip," said Dr. Larry Goldstein, director of Duke Stroke Center in Durham, N.C. "She appears to have an aphasia, [or] problem with expressive language, and right-sided facial weakness. Although this can be caused by other conditions, it is very concerning for stroke."

Aphasia usually comes on suddenly after a stroke or head injury, but it can also progress gradually because of a growing brain tumor or degenerative disease.

The American Stroke Association says that if a person shows any sign of a stroke, including difficulty speaking, she should get to the hospital immediately.

"I would always recommend that people who have sudden trouble talking should go to the emergency room," said Dr. Dawn Kleindorfer, associate professor of neurology at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. "If her symptoms lasted less than 24 hours, it's possible she had a transient ischemic attack or it could have been a complicated migraine. But either way, I would always recommend that people get checked out to be sure."

A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, occurs in a person who has stroke-like symptoms for up to one to two hours because of to a temporary disturbance of blood supply to an area of the brain. A TIA is often considered a warning sign for a true stroke in the future if nothing is done to prevent it.