Dr. Dre is a hip hop legend known for his work as a rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. After getting his start in the mid-’80s with World Class Wreckin’ Crew and NWA, he soared to superstardom, even performing in the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show this past February. But just one year before that memorable show, the 56-year-old music giant nearly lost his life to a sudden brain aneurysm. Thankfully, he’s made a full recovery—and is now sharing one crucial piece of health advice with all of us. Read on to learn what Dr. Dre hopes others will do, and how doing it himself might have prevented his near-death experience.
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In Jan. 2021, Dr. Dre was hospitalized at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles for a possible brain aneurysm, a condition which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bulges or balloons. A life-threatening condition, brain aneurysms can rupture, causing bleeding in the brain.
While speaking with Dolvett Quince on the Workout the Doubt podcast, Dre opened up about his recovery, the first two weeks of which were spent in the intensive care unit. He described being monitored day and night for signs of possible complications. “Because of what was going on in my brain, they had to wake me up every hour, on the hour, for two weeks to do these tests,” he told Quince. “Basically, sobriety tests, like touch your nose, rub your heel on your calf, and all that,” he said.
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Dr. Dre’s condition was touch and go after being admitted to the hospital, he said on the podcast. “They weren’t allowing anybody to come up, meaning visitors or family or anything like that, because of COVID, but they allowed my family to come in,” he explained. “I found out later, they called them up so they could say their last goodbyes because they thought I was out of here.”
This came as a shock to the rapper, who says he never knew the severity of his condition during his extended hospital stay. “I didn’t know it was that serious—seeing my mom and my sister… I didn’t know, nobody told me,” he said. “It was crazy.”
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While speaking with The Los Angeles Times in 2021, the music megastar said his brain aneurysm was likely caused by his high blood pressure, though he was unaware of the condition before it caused his health scare. “It’s a really weird thing. I’ve never had high blood pressure. And I’ve always been a person that has always taken care of my health. But there’s something that happens for some reason with Black men and high blood pressure, and I never saw that coming.”
According to a 2020 report published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, “Black men have disproportionately higher rates of hypertension and are more likely to experience complications of hypertension, including stroke, myocardial infarction [heart attack], and death.” A 2020 report from the American Heart Association adds that “Black people experience a twofold higher mortality rate from high blood pressure, the often-called ‘silent killer.'”
Dr. Dre now says he’s “feeling fantastic,” and is focusing on maintaining healthy blood pressure as part of his recovery. He’s also urging others to do the same. “I think every Black man should just check that out and make sure things are OK with the blood pressure,” he said. “And I’m going to move on and, hopefully, live a long and healthy life.”
Just days after his brain aneurysm, Dr. Dre took to Instagram to share the news of his hospitalization. “Thanks to my family, friends and fans for their interest and well wishes,” he captioned a post on Jan. 5, 2021. “I’m doing great and getting excellent care from my medical team… Shout out to all the great medical professionals at Cedars,” he added.
Since then, he’s been back to work on his long awaited third studio album, Detox, which is expected to be released in 2023. He’s also slated to open a south Los Angeles high school with fellow record producer Jimmy Iovine. Having made a full recovery, the star said on Workout the Doubt that he feels he’s now “stronger than ever.”