5 Possible Reasons Why Mitch McConnell Froze Mid-Sentence on Live TV, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta
The medical expert offered five likely scenarios on CNN.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has triggered major concern after freezing during a news conference on Wednesday. The Kentucky Republican was in the midst of speaking when he froze for around 30 seconds. GOP Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming gripped McConnell's arm and whispered to him, "Hey Mitch, anything else you want to say? Or should we just go back to your office? Do you want to say anything else to the press?" After being led by an aide toward his office, he returned a few moments later, telling everyone he was "fine." He later joked to President Joe Biden that he was "sandbagged." What could have happened to cause the 81-year-old to freeze? Dr. Sanjay Gupta has offered a few possible reasons on CNN. Read on to hear what he said.
Dr. Gupta calls the event "concerning" and confirms that McConnell will need a "thorough examination and workup" to figure out what happened. However, one common explanation could be dehydration, he says. According to the National Library of Medicine, dehydration is more common in older adults and more serious symptoms can include confusion, fainting, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, and shock.
Dr. Gupta also notes that it could be "some kind of medication side effect." Side effects, also known as adverse reactions, are "unwanted undesirable effects that are possibly related to a drug. Side effects can vary from minor problems like a runny nose to life-threatening events, such as a heart attack or liver damage," explains the FDA.
"More seriously," he says it could be a "petite mal seizure, a mini seizure, so to speak." Per the Mayo Clinic, a "simple absence seizure causes a vacant stare, which may be mistaken for a brief lapse in attention. The seizure lasts about 10 seconds, though it may last as long as 30 seconds. There's no confusion, headache or drowsiness after the seizure," they say.
Symptoms of absence seizures include:
- A sudden stop in activity without falling.
- Lip smacking.
- Eyelid flutters.
- Chewing motions.
- Finger rubbing.
- Small movements of both hands.
Another potentially more serious scenario is that McConnell suffered a "transient ischemic attack, a sort of mini-stroke." A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a stroke that lasts only a few minutes, explains the NIH. "It occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted." Symptoms, "usually occur suddenly" and "are similar to those of stroke but do not last as long," they say. "Most symptoms of a TIA disappear within an hour, although they may persist for up to 24 hours." Symptoms can include:
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Difficulty with walking, dizziness
While McConnell seems to be doing fine, "there was clearly some sort of neurological event that happened there, whether it was just because of dehydration or medication or something like that," notes Dr. Gupta.