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Answers on Bret Michaels' brain hemorrhage (a.k.a. stroke)

April 26, 2010 |  6:11 pm

Bret With former Poison frontman (now reality-show celeb) Bret Michaels having reportedly suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, three questions naturally arise: What is it? What causes it? What's the prognosis?

First answer: A subarachnoid hemorrhage is a type of bleeding stroke that occurs between the tissues around the brain and the brain itself.

Second answer: Sometimes such strokes are the result of a ruptured aneurysm, or weak spot in a blood vessel; sometimes they arise from an existing weakness in the connection between the brain's arteries and veins; sometimes they're caused by an injury (a fall in the elderly, car accident in the young). Sometimes, there's simply no way to know.

Third answer: That depends -- upon complications, amount of bleeding, age, symptom severity. (More on this in a bit.)

All of this info is from the ever-reliable Medline Plus. Here's what else it has to say about subarachnoid hemorrhages.

Now back to that prognosis question. Here's a just-the-facts summary from

About 35% of people die when they have a subarachnoid hemorrhage due to an aneurysm because it results in extensive brain damage. Another 15% die within a few weeks because of bleeding from a second rupture. People who survive for 6 months but who do not have surgery for the aneurysm have a 3% chance of another rupture each year. The outlook is better when the cause is an arteriovenous malformation. Occasionally, the hemorrhage is caused by a small defect that is not detected by cerebral angiography because the defect has already sealed itself off. In such cases, the outlook is very good.

Some people recover most or all mental and physical function after a subarachnoid hemorrhage. However, many people continue to have symptoms such as weakness, paralysis, or loss of sensation on one side of the body or aphasia.

More from Merck here.

And here's the latest story, posted on, about Michaels: Bret Michaels undergoing new tests

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Bret Michaels. Credit: File photo


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Comments (17)

My mom had this happen to her on September 11, 2008. It was so scary. Never ever forget it. She has a shunt on the left side of her head. Shunt is to drain flood out of the brain to make each side even. She is just fine. She can't drive and when it is about bed time she gets confused. But I have to say, it took a whole year for her to get to herself. She takes meds that are more than a human can take (which keeps her alive). So with the health care system that was voted for, is pretty horrible for a person that has to take some many. THIS IS VERY SERIOUS!!! after surgery she had 10 days, which i mean she could die any min anytime of that day. She woke up on the 13th day. She was a crazy lady. I mean she remembered us, but very crazy like. They can get brain cancer if they make it, because of all the cat scans they have to take during the coma. My mom had at least 6 a day.

I pray from him, I still pray for my mom. This is so scary that i could not imagine another person or family can go through. So sorry.

Te Berry


Well, there are those (and many of us) that prove the above numbers wrong. I suffered a massive subarachnoid hemorrage in 1998. Went to the ER weeks before (Princeton, NJ ER) complaining of nausea, vomitting and headache. They sent me home - said it was stress. A couple of weeks later it blew. I was blind (Terson's Syndrome) and paralyzed with no short term memory. But thanks to a wonderful neurosurgeon at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, I recovered and was back to work three months later, and regained my eyesight after 5 eye surgeries. They told my family there was no hope for recovery and I would never be able to live independently again, and they were wrong. I was older than Bret at the time, as well. They said it was caused either by head trauma or a congenital flaw. I have no ill effects from the aneurysm, my memory is better than most, and I certainly do live independently and have a wonderful career. If I tell people what happened to me all they say is, "You're a walking miracle". Bret, you can be, too. Prayer works - don't be afraid to use it, my friends.

Bret Michaels has a parasitic infection. He was in Mexico six months ago, where parasitic infections are commonplace because the water is untreated. Parasites can cause brain bleeding, they can cause appendicitis. Bret has had both.

OK, Bret's doctors now know what the issue is. Save his life guys. Then go back to medical school.

OMFG. Bret I cried. I listened to your music when I was young. And yes, Every Rose has its thorn. But please fight fight for your kids and fans even the young fans like me. Im 15 and when I heard I cried. Bret you are my hero when you do everything. I sit in bed and say how amazing you are. I love you to death. You are my inspiration. You always have even when people put you down, I stand up for you. I have always wanted to meet you, just never got the chance. Well, But I still think of you. Just Bret please pull through no one knows how I feel I havent ate of anything...............

Sorry... But since when is something that is NOT a blood clot any type of stroke. A bleeding stroke still has to have a clot. An aneurysm is not a clot.

I wonder if the awards show backdrop, that fell on him, had anything to do with this. Wasn't that him?

Brett did not have a stroke. Strokes are sometimes caused by a brain hemorrhage, but they aren't the same.

Ischemic strokes, usually caused by blood clots, are indeed the most common type of stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes are more rare, but they're nonetheless a type of stroke. Here's a straightforward explanation of the differences from ... And here's information from the Mayo Clinic specifically on subarachnoid hemorrhagic strokes, should the blunt language of the Merck Manual not have convinced you:

-- Tami

Here's what I believe... he may have had some type of clot prior to his appendectomy. Any type of surgeries can cause a blood clot from any location of the body to travel to the heart or brain. This in turn may cause a stroke. A hemmorhage is NOT a stroke, but can cause one very easily as pools of blood tend to clot. I think he hemorrhaged for some reason and that caused a stroke.

A ruptured aneurysm IS a type of stroke. Stroke is a generic term that describes several conditions including both hemorrhagic stroke/aneurysm (burst blood vessel in brain), ischemia (restriction in blood supply) or thrombosis (blood clot). A stroke happens when there is a loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain The blood vessel can be in the brain or in a person's leg and if it restricts blood to the brain it can cause a stroke.

Michaels is getting a lot of support across the Internet. Compare reports on Bret's condition and chances of full recovery, short video:

its MTVs fault. Bret had an accident when he was performing at the MTV awards. He was hit in the head by the props and knocked him out unconscious.

Tami - Thanks for your post. It has good info about the challenges that Bret Michaels is facing right now. Another source for a medical take on Bret Michaels' subarachnoid hemorrhage is KevinMD: Also, for those who might be interested in how genetics can sometimes contribute to these types of brain hemorrhages, I have a post on my blog, DNA and You, here: .
-Matt Mealiffe, M.D.

Hang in there Bret! Unfortunately my best friend had this happen to her. You'll make it ! My prayers are with you and your family. God Bless and be patient. Always, Mary Parker (Rome, GA.}

hemorrhagic stroke related to hypertension secondary to drug abuse as evidenced by the show, "rock of love."

What Bret has was a perimeisen cyphalic subarachnoid hemorrhage...basically a non-anurismal hemorrhage. Yes it is a type of stroke, but not what people normally associate with the word stoke (brain attack/clot). I had one 2 years ago May 13th...I am 37. There is no known cause...I was rarely ever sick in my life and a competitive cyclist...when happened. So mine and Brets were very mild (we didnt die and no long term deficits)...but it took me a good month or two to get back to a normal routine...and a year before I could work out. Still have bad headaches and an on and off feeling of pressure in my head...I wish him the best of luck.


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