Stroke from Cardiac Defect puts Bret Michaels back in Hospital

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Bret Michaels is rehospitalized after suffering a small stroke, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). The rock star experienced “numbness” and it was later discovered he has a cardiac defect known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO), prompting Bret Michaels to seek treatment and subsequent discovery that he has a cardiac defect that is easily repaired.

Patent foramen ovale is a heart defect that can go undetected for years and usually present at birth. Bret Michaels will require surgery to close the cardiac birth defect.

The foramen ovale is an opening in the heart that facilitates circulation during fetal development and normally closes at birth. Blood travels from the left to the right side of the heart before birth through the foramen ovale. When it fails to close, the condition is known as patent foramen ovale. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 40 percent of adult patients younger than age 55 with stroke are found to have the cardiac birth defect found in Bret Michaels.


Symptoms associated with stroke from PFO include numbness on one side of the body, visual and speech disturbances, loss of balance, and sudden severe headache. Bret Michaels experienced numbness prompting medical attention.

Treatment, if there are no contraindications, includes blood thinners or aspirin that can also increase the risk of bleeding. The cause of stroke associated with PFO is from blood clot. A patent foramen ovale can be repaired by inserting a mesh disk during a cardiac catheterization.

Small strokes, such as the one suffered by Bret Michaels, are warning signs that a larger stroke could occur.

According to Michael’s website, he "was readmitted to the hospital this week after suffering numbness on the left side of his body, predominately his face and hands which doctors described as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or warning stroke." The same symptoms can occur from hemorrhagic stroke, suffered by Michaels less than a month ago.

Bret Michaels has no residual effects from the warning stroke, known as a transient ischemic attack, or "mini-stroke", caused by a cardiac defect known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO). According to reports, Michaels is continuing rehab, but tired of being in the hospital.