Bret Michaels Removed From Stage After Medical Emergency

Poison frontman Bret Michaels had to be removed from the stage in Manchester, NH after suffering what was called a “medical emergency.” Fellow bandmate and guitarist Pete Evick took to Facebook to make this announcement:

“This is a message I never imagined I’d have to post. Tonight in Manchester, NH 3 songs into the set Bret had me sing a song as he rushed off stage. In the 9 years I’ve stood next to him, I’ve never seen a look like the one on his face as if I was a complete stranger. One of the crew returned instantly to notify me that Bret’s blood sugar was extremely low.

He returned to the stage only to announce that he could not continue. As you all know he is a health fanatic and fiercely monitors his blood sugar, he basically had to be dragged off the stage in his sickest of conditions. When I rushed to the bus he could barley speak, but begged me to apologize to the fans and seemed only concerned for them.

As of now he is with paramedics being evaluated. We will keep you posted throughout the evening.”

Michaels, 51, has had Type 1 diabetes  since childhood and has been hospitalized several times because of the disease. According to Evick, Bret had apparently finished his third song when he began to experience “very low blood sugar” and “looked like he was going to die.” He was taken to the hospital by paramedics.

Michaels had previously been hospitalized for an appendectomy, followed by a brain hemorrhage, warning strokes, and a heart conditions (patent foramen ovale) for which he underwent surgery in January 2011.

What is hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia, also called low blood glucose or low blood sugar, occurs when blood glucose drops below normal levels. Glucose, an important source of energy for the body, comes from food. Carbohydrates are the main dietary source of glucose. Rice, potatoes, bread, tortillas, cereal, milk, fruit, and sweets are all carbohydrate-rich foods.

After a meal, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the body’s cells. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the cells use glucose for energy. If a person takes in more glucose than the body needs at the time, the body stores the extra glucose in the liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. The body can use glycogen for energy between meals. Extra glucose can also be changed to fat and stored in fat cells. Fat can also be used for energy.

When blood glucose begins to fall, glucagon—another hormone made by the pancreas—signals the liver to break down glycogen and release glucose into the bloodstream. Blood glucose will then rise toward a normal level. In some people with diabetes, this glucagon response to hypoglycemia is impaired and other hormones such as epinephrine, also called adrenaline, may raise the blood glucose level. But with diabetes treated with insulin or pills that increase insulin production, glucose levels can’t easily return to the normal range.

Hypoglycemia can happen suddenly. It is usually mild and can be treated quickly and easily by eating or drinking a small amount of glucose-rich food. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can get worse and cause confusion, clumsiness, or fainting. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, coma, and even death.

In adults and children older than 10 years, hypoglycemia is uncommon except as a side effect of diabetes treatment. Hypoglycemia can also result, however, from other medications or diseases, hormone or enzyme deficiencies, or tumors.

HypoglycemiaWhat are the symptoms of hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia causes symptoms such as

  • hunger
  • shakiness
  • nervousness
  • sweating
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • sleepiness
  • confusion
  • difficulty speaking
  • anxiety
  • weakness

Hypoglycemia can also happen during sleep. Some signs of hypoglycemia during sleep include

  • crying out or having nightmares
  • finding pajamas or sheets damp from perspiration
  • feeling tired, irritable, or confused after waking up

What causes hypoglycemia in people with diabetes?

Hypoglycemia can occur as a side effect of some diabetes medications, including insulin and oral diabetes medications—pills—that increase insulin production.

In people on insulin or pills that increase insulin production, low blood glucose can be due to:

  • meals or snacks that are too small, delayed, or skipped
  • increased physical activity
  • alcoholic beverages

For more information, check out the Resounding Health Casebook on Diabetes.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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