Breaking News: More setbacks for Bret Michaels

Just as I was about to write an update about Bret Michaels’ remarkable recovery from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, there is breaking news that Michaels has been put back into the hospital. He has apparently experienced what is being called a “warning stroke,” medically called a transient ischemic attack or TIA.  Michaels’ began to have numbness on the left side of his body- especially of his face and hands. During the workup for these new symptoms, scans revealed that Michaels has a “hole in his heart,” which, although unrelated to his subarachnoid hemorrhage, could be related to the TIA. Michaels’  neurosurgeon, Dr. Joseph Zabramski, wrote on Michaels’ Web site:

“Without a doubt he is very determined to get healthy and make a 100 percent recovery. Medically speaking it is a fantastic attitude both mentally and physically for him to have. However, Bret’s brain and body are not quite 100 percent yet, especially with the hole found in his heart.”

This latest setback puts into question whether Michaels will be able to attend the Celebrity Apprentice finals this weekend, or a concert scheduled for May 28th.

What is Transient Ischemic Attack?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a transient stroke that lasts only a few minutes. It occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted. TIAs are usually caused by one of three things:

  • Low blood flow at a narrow part of a major artery carrying blood to the brain, such as the carotid artery
  • A blood clot in another part of the body (such as the heart) breaks off, travels to the brain, and blocks a blood vessel in the brain
  • Narrowing of the smaller blood vessel in the brain, blocking blood flow for a short period of time; usually caused by plaque (a fatty substance) build up

TIA symptoms, which usually occur suddenly, are similar to those of stroke but do not last as long. Most symptoms of a TIA disappear within an hour, although they may persist for up to 24 hours. Symptoms can include: numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion or difficulty in talking or understanding speech; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; and difficulty with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.

TIAs are often warning signs that a person is at risk for a more serious and debilitating stroke. About one-third of those who have a TIA will have an acute stroke some time in the future. Many strokes can be prevented by heeding the warning signs of TIAs and treating underlying risk factors. The most important treatable factors linked to TIAs and stroke are high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, heart disease, carotid artery disease, diabetes, and heavy use of alcohol. Medical help is available to reduce and eliminate these factors. Lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining healthy weight, exercising, and enrolling in smoking and alcohol cessation programs can also reduce these factors.

For more information:

Resounding
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Transient Ischemic Attack
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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