Tens of thousands of people experience ruptured brain aneurysms each year. In many cases, it is possible to prevent that from happening. But you need to know what to look for.
One in 50 people are walking around with a brain aneurysm. Most are harmless but larger ones can be a problem.
"If a patient has an aneurysm that's 5 mm in size or larger in their brain, it is important to bring them in and have a conversation about that aneurysm," said Dr. Ramesh Grandhi, a vascular neurosurgeon at University Hospital and assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at UT Health San Antonio.
An aneurysm is the ballooning of an artery such that the artery wall goes from being a cylinder shape to having a balloon associated with it. And that balloon is at risk for popping or rupturing.
"If an aneurysm ruptures, patients have a 40 to 50 percent chance of death," Dr. Grandhi said.
Those most at risk for an aneurysm are people with high blood pressure, smokers, those who drink or drank alcohol excessively, and those with a significant cardiac family history.
"A person who has that positive family history and someone who has a risk factor or a significant positive family history should get screened for a brain aneurysm," Dr. Grandhi added.
If you find out you have one, it can be fixed with an open brain surgery. But in most cases, the treatment is much easier.
"We can go through the groin artery and basically travel catheters and wires up into their brain and use a whole host of technologies to basically kill off the aneurysm," Dr. Grandhi explained.
That includes using stents or coils. Alberto Camacho, 27, became all-too-familiar with those coils.
"I have never had a headache before, so I figured it was a migraine. So I kind of waited for it to go away and, the next day, I went to a clinic and they told me it was just a migraine and to take some pills and it should go away," Camacho recalled.
Days later, he found out it was an aneurysm that had erupted. We'll hear how his life was saved later this month in a future Real Men Wear Gowns story.
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