David Hasselhoff Hospitalized for Seizure

Actor, singer, and America’s Got Talent judge, David Hasselhoff was hospitalized at Cedar Sinai Hospital in LA yesterday after suffering from an apparent seizure. A 911 call from his daughter, Hayley, brought paramedics to the performer’s home, and he was later transported to the hospital. Although Hasselhoff, 57, has been admitted for alcohol poisoning in the past, it is also reported that he was on anti-seizure medication, and it is inappropriate to speculate as to what the cause of the current episode is.

Seizures (“fits,” convulsions) are episodes of disturbed brain function that cause changes in attention or behavior. They are caused by abnormally excited electrical signals in the brain. There is a broad spectrum of how this abnormal activity is manifested- anything from a short period of inattentiveness or staring (absence seizures) to a seizure which causes whole body shaking (generalized tonic-clonic seizures). Most seizures last 5 minutes or less. Afterward, the individual will seem very tired and will go to sleep. Epilepsy is a brain disorder involving repeated, spontaneous seizures of any type. About 2.7 million Americans have been treated for epilepsy in the past 5 years. That’s 8 or 9 out of every 1,000 people.

In a previous blog about seizures, we touched on what you should do if you witness someone having a seizure. In this blog, we will discuss causes of seizures.

Sometimes a seizure is related to a temporary condition, such as exposure to or withdrawal from certain drugs, a high fever, or abnormal levels of sodium or glucose in the blood. Once the situation is corrected, the seizures do not return and the person does NOT have epilepsy.

In other cases, permanent injury to or changes in brain tissue cause the brain to be abnormally excitable. In these cases, the seizures can happen without an immediate cause. This is epilepsy. Epilepsy can affect people of any age.

The most common of cause of epilepsy is called idiopathic, which means the cause cannot be identified. These seizures usually begin between ages 5 and 20, but they can happen at any age. People with this condition have no other neurological problems, but sometimes have a family history of seizures or epilepsy.

Some other more common causes of epilepsy include:

  • Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Infections (including brain abscess, meningitis, encephalitis, and AIDS)
  • Problems that are present from before birth (congenital brain defects or metabolic diseases such as phenylketonuria)
  • Injuries around the time of birth (in this case, seizures usually begin in infancy or early childhood)
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Tumors or other structural brain lesions such as blood clots (hematomas) or abnormal blood vessels  (aneurysms)

For more information:

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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