Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois Suffers Stroke

Associated Press + More

CHICAGO — Sen. Mark Kirk underwent surgery Monday after tests revealed he has suffered a stroke, according to a statement from the Illinois Republican's office.

Kirk, 52, checked himself into Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois over the weekend and was later transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where tests showed that he had suffered a stroke, the statement said.

"Early this morning the Senator underwent surgery to relieve swelling around his brain stemming from the stroke," said the Monday statement attributed to a spokesperson for Kirk. "The surgery was successful. Due to his young age, good health and the nature of the stroke, doctors are very confident in the Senator's recovery over the weeks ahead."

[Vote for your pick for the 2012 GOP nomination.]

The statement from Kirk's office said he had a tear in the carotid artery on the right side of his neck. Carotid arteries carry blood to the brain; carotid tears are a common cause of strokes, which can involve blood clots traveling to the brain and causing bleeding there.

Kirk was elected to the Senate in 2010, winning the seat formerly held by President Barack Obama after a hard-fought election that often focused on questions about his own honesty.

Kirk at times exaggerated his record in the Navy Reserves. He incorrectly said he had been named intelligence officer of the year and took part in the invasion of Iraq. He said he came under fire while on a military flight but wouldn't provide details and stopped making the claim when questioned about it.

"I'm not perfect. I made a mistake and then apologized," Kirk said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press. "Going forward, the question we have and the choice we make as to who our senator is has a lot less to do with what happened in the 20th century and a lot more with what's happening in the 21st century."