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Bret Michaels' Condition: How Serious Is It?

By Michael W. Smith, MD
WebMD Medical News Blog

’80s hair-metal fans are on the edges of their seats wondering if Bret Michaels, reality TV star and the lead singer of Poison, will pull through after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

A brain hemorrhage is a serious medical condition and occurs when an artery in the brain bursts.

Most brain hemorrhages occur in older people, so my first thought when I heard the news was, “What could have caused this in a 47-year old?”

More than one person has asked me if drugs might be the cause of his hemorrhage. I don’t profess to know the details of Michaels’ past, or whether he currently used drugs, but the fact is cocaine use can cause of bleeding in the brain. High alcohol consumption increases the risk as well.

But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and see what else might have led to this potentially devastating medical condition.

Michaels professes to have type 1 diabetes, the type of diabetes that usually develops in childhood or early adulthood (formerly known as juvenile diabetes). So could that be the cause?

Actually, yes. A 2007 study showed that people with diabetes were 3 to 4 times more likely to have bleeding in the brain. This was particularly true for those younger than 55 years.

Michaels reportedly had slurred speech, blurred vision and dizziness, among other symptoms – all common symptoms. The symptoms of a brain hemorrhage depend on the area of the brain affected. So what are the chances he’ll recover completely?

It’s a tough question to answer without knowing the details of his condition, but a brain hemorrhage is obviously quite serious. Based on his symptoms, we assume he’s conscious and alert, which is a good sign.

There’s no doubt that the road to recovery will be a long one.

Unfortunately, only a small number of people that suffer a brain hemorrhage go on to fully recover. Blood in the brain is very damaging to the brain tissue.

We’ll keep a close eye on any reports about his condition to see if we can get a better idea of his prognosis. Fingers crossed that he’ll make a good recovery.

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