Since Poison lead singer and reality show star Bret Michaels was rushed to an undisclosed hospital Thursday night and the news broke that he had been diagnosed with a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage, the Internet has been burning with speculation and assumptions. Bret Michaels’ publicists took to his website to curb the erroneous information that had become prevalent on the Internet by the weekend, noting that several reports that the 47-year-old rocker was stabilized and basically alright were unfounded and untrue. As the publicists worked to curtail misleading information (Bret Michaels’ condition was critical and remains so), speculation as to what may have caused the brain hemorrhage was dominating the Internet dialogue. A doctor in New York maintains that everyone’s got it all wrong…
Some were looking to blame Bret Michaels’ rock ‘n roll lifestyle, from his party-hard days as the frontman of Poison to his “Rock of Love” days of seeming excess. In the mix were speculations about alcohol abuse, chemical binges, and all-nighters replete with nothing but sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.
Others pointed a finger at diabetes. Bret Michaels was diagnosed at the age of six with Type 1 diabetes, a condition that is fatal unless treated with insulin.
Many began speculating almost immediately about a connection between the brain hemorrhage and an accident that occurred at the 2009 Tony Awards. Bret Michaels had just finished performing with Poison in a tribute to the musical “Rock of Ages” when a lowering prop hit him on the head, knocking him to the floor. The prop broke his nose and Michaels later said he blacked out but believed he slammed the back of his head against the stage floor.
A fourth popular theory surrounds Bret Michaels’ recent appendectomy. Released on April 15, just days before going back into the hospital with the brain hemorrhage, Michaels underwent emergency surgery in Texas. Some believe that he may have not allowed himself proper time in which to heal and recuperate.
And then there are the mix-and-match theories, speculative offerings that pick and choose among the possibilities, plus degenerative conditions and pre-existing conditions.
Dr. Keith Siller of New York University’s Comprehensive Stroke Care Center told People magazine that these were unlikely causes, that most subarachnoid brain hemorrhages occurred via the rupture of a previously undetected aneurysm. Siller said that the recent appendectomy and Bret Michaels’ lifelong battle with diabetes were very unlikely triggers. Likewise, the accident at the 2009 Tony Awards.
Siller said that these types of brain hemorrhages are caused by aneurysms that are congenital and occur in about 2% of the population. “Most people have no clue that they have this,” he told the magazine. “People usually find out when they have a hemorrhage. In most cases, that is the cause. It’s something people have silently.”
Siller also notes that the most common trigger for subarachnoid hermorrhages was smoking.
As for Bret Michaels, it is yet unclear what triggered the brain hemorrhage.
The seriousness of Michaels’ injury becomes clear with the statistics: one in four people with a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage die within the first week (many never survive the trip to the hospital). Half die within the first six months.
Siller noted that the condition of the patient was important in the treatment. He noted that it was extremely important to find the source of the bleeding and that some aneurysms were so tiny that they could be nearly undetectable. But a conscious patient was the key to a good prognosis.
Bret Michaels’ reps reported that the rocker was conscious, although his words were slurred and his vision blurry. According to his Facebook page, he is currently under 24-hour observation and will continue to undergo tests in order to hopefully find the source of the bleeding and treat the injury.