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Signs You May be Having a Grand Mal Seizure, Like Brooke Shields

Everything you need to know about the star’s health scare.

In her new Glamour 2023 Women of the Year cover story, Brooke Shields, 58, reveals that she suffered a grand mal seizure before a performance of her one-woman show, Previously Owned by Brooke Shields, at New York City's Café Carlyle. None other than Bradley Cooper came to her rescue. Here is everything you need to know about what happened, including the signs you should look out for that could signify you are suffering from a grand mal seizure like Brooke Shields. 

Brooke Shields Says She Was Drinking So Much Water


"I was preparing for the show, and I was drinking so much water, and I didn't know I was low in sodium," Shields tells Glamour. "I was waiting for an Uber. I get down to the bottom of the steps, and I start evidently looking weird, and [the people I was with] were like, 'Are you OK?' "

She Started Looking "Weird" and Sparked Concern


After she left home, the people she was with kept asking if she was "all right" or if she needed some coffee. She "walked" to a "corner" outside before stumbling into N.Y.C. restaurant L'Artusi. 

She Walked Into a Restaurant and "Everything Starts to Go Black"

A close-up of a table at an Italian restaurant with pasta and wine.

". . . I go to the sommelier who had just taken an hour to watch my run-through . . . Everything starts to go black. Then my hands drop to my side and I go headfirst into the wall," she said. 

She Started "Frothing at the Mouth"


She started "frothing at the mouth, totally blue, trying to swallow my tongue," she said. "The next thing I remember, I'm being loaded into an ambulance. I have oxygen on. And Bradley f—ing Cooper is sitting next to me holding my hand," Shields shared.

She Came to and Bradley Cooper Was Holding Her Hand


"I didn't have a sense of humor," she added. "I couldn't really get any words out. But I thought to myself, 'This is what death must be like.' You wake up and Bradley Cooper's going, 'I'm going to go to the hospital with you, Brooke,' and he's holding my hand. And I'm looking at my hand, I'm looking at Bradley Cooper's hand in my hand, and I'm like, 'This is odd and surreal.'"

Doctors Thought Her "Brain Was Seizing"


Doctors at the hospital "thought my brain was seizing" and had EEGs, catheters and IVs at the ready. "I was stuck. And then they put me into ICU and that's where I got bronchitis," she recalled.

Doctors Say That Low Sodium Caused the Seizure From Drinking "Too Much Water"


Shields was later told by doctors that "low sodium" caused the seizure after she consumed "too much water." She said, "I drowned myself. And if you don't have enough sodium in your blood or urine or your body, you can have a seizure."

Grand Mal Seizures Are Also Called Tonic-Clonic Seizures and Here Are the Symptoms


According to the CDC, tonic-clonic seizures, also called grand mal seizures, are generalized seizures that affect both sides of the brain. They can make a person cry out, lose consciousness, fall to the ground, or have muscle jerks or spasms. "The person may feel tired after a tonic-clonic seizure," they add.

10 Percent of People Will Have One


The CDC adds that about 1 out of 10 people may have a seizure during his or her lifetime. "That means seizures are common, and one day you might need to help someone during or after a seizure," they say. 

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Here Is How to Help Someone Who Is Having One

Ambulance emergency car in motion blur.

Here are things you can do to help someone who is having this type of seizure, says the CDC.

  • Ease the person to the floor.
  • Turn the person gently onto one side. This will help the person breathe.
  • Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp. This can prevent injury.
  • Put something soft and flat, like a folded jacket, under his or her head.
  • Remove eyeglasses.
  • Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make it hard to breathe.
  • Time the seizure. Call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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