By Chris Mascaro
February 07, 2014

Kris Letang (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Kris Letang has 227 points in eight seasons with the Penguins. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Kris Letang, one of the league's top defensemen, will miss at least six weeks after having a stroke last week, the Penguins announced on Friday.

Letang will be treated with blood thinners, and the stroke is not considered career threatening, the team said.

Testing showed Letang, 26, had "a very small hole in the wall of his heart since birth," the team said, which could have led to the stroke.

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“Kris had one brief episode of dizziness and nausea last week,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said in a statement. “We held him out of the Los Angeles game Thursday night, and when he continued to feel ill, tests conducted in Phoenix on Saturday gave us the first indication of his condition. Further testing then was conducted when he returned to Pittsburgh, and he continued to undergo a battery of tests here this week.”

Letang, who has been cleared to go on vacation with his family during the Olympic break, will be re-examined in six weeks. He can resume skating upon return from the break.

“I hope that by making my condition public at this time, I can help other people by encouraging them to seek medical help if they experience some of the symptoms associated with a stroke — regardless of their age or general health,” Letang said in a statement. “It obviously was a shock to get the news but I’m optimistic that I can overcome this and get back on the ice.”

A third-round pick in 2005, Letang was a finalist for the Norris Trophy last season, which is given to the league's best defenseman. He won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and has 10 goals and eight assists in 34 games this season.

Letang signed an eight-year, $58 million deal in July.

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