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Sen. Van Hollen discusses recovery from minor stroke

Van Hollen speaks out about stroke symptoms
Van Hollen speaks out about stroke symptoms 01:40

BALTIMORE -- It's been nearly three months since U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen suffered a minor stroke.

"They said that it was a good thing I came in, because we can see some bleeding in the brain," the 63-year-old said on "CBS Mornings."

During a campaign speech in May, Van Hollen first appeared fine, but a video shows him start to lean over on the podium to steady himself.

"I felt lightheaded," he recalled. "I had a pain in my neck. And my ears were popping a little bit, like you're on an airplane."

Doctors found a tear in a vein in the back of his head. After a week of hospitalization and rest at home, Van Hollen has been recovering and tells CBS News he's reevaluating his busy schedule.

"I think the lesson for all of us is you've got to look out for your health," he said.

Dr. Céline Gounder, editor-at large for public health for Kaiser Health News,  said demanding situations, like what Van Hollen faces on the job regularly, could take a toll. 

"We do certainly see a link between stress and high blood pressure, whether you're getting enough sleep," said Gounder.

She said it's all too common for people to ignore the warning signs, which for stroke include lack of balance, dizziness, vision problems and slurred speech. 

Here in the U.S., it's now the fifth leading cause of death, with someone suffering from the life-threatening medical emergency every 40 seconds. 

While Van Hollen survived, he now has his own warning for others

"When you're feeling these strange symptoms, don't just brush them off, which we so often do," he said.

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