R. Yaya Neurosciences and History 2018; 6(2): 61-65
Type of article: ORIGINAL
R. Yaya Former head of the Department of Neurology. Hospital Universitario La Fe, Valencia, Spain. Art historian This study was featured as an oral presentation at the SEN’s 69th Annual Meeting, in November 2017.
Introduction. At the age of 52 years, Georg Friedrich Händel had the first of a series of strokes, which varied in terms of symptoms and cause.
Methods. This study reviews the main articles on Händel published on MEDLINE/PubMed, and a wide range of biographies of the renowned composer, to gather clinical data that may help establish a diagnosis of the cerebrovascular disease Händel suffered.
Results. Based on the clinical profiles of each vascular event, the first stroke (1737) may have been a deep brain haemorrhage, resulting in subcortical haematoma. Six years later, in 1743, Händel presented a lacunar ischaemic stroke, and similar episodes 2 and 8 years later (in 1745 and 1751). The composer gradually developed multiinfarct encephalopathy due to involvement of the penetrating arteries.
Discussion. This article discusses different pathophysiological factors that may explain this peculiar sequence of cerebrovascular events. Many of the vascular risk factors observed in Händel are common to the three syndromes proposed. The composer’ s powerful personality and overwhelming creative capacity alternated with periods of deep sorrow; these mood and behaviour changes suggest bipolar disorder. The article also analyses possible causes of Händel’ s blindness and the treatments he received after consulting the ophthalmologists Samuel Sharp, William Bromfield, and John Taylor, in 1751, 1752, and 1758, respectively.
Bipolar disorder, blindness, brain haemorrhage, Georg Friedrich Händel, lacunar stroke, multi-infarct encephalopathy
Neurosciences and History 2018; 6(2): 61-65
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