Brain Dead Vs. Coma Vs. Vegetative State: What’s The Difference?

178502526In light of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina being found unconscious, there have been many headlines that said she in “a coma” or a “vegetative state” or even “brain dead”. First things first, patients who suffer brain death are not in coma. And patients who are in coma may or may not progress to brain death.

The brain has a number of vast jobs to complete every second and is a very complex organ. The brain controls not only an individual’s thought process and voluntary movements, but it controls involuntary movements and other vital body functions. These functions include auditory, olfactory, visual and tactile senses, regulation of body temperature, blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate (although the heart can continue to beat without the brain in “autotonic response”). The brain also produces hormones to control individual organ function. A good example is the brain’s production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). This hormone is produced to concentrate the urine in the kidneys, thus protecting against life-threatening dehydration.

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Brain Death
Patients in coma may be in deep coma or may survive in what is termed a “brain dead.”