8 Brain Aneurysm Risk Factors Every Woman Should Know

Joni Mitchell & 8 Brain Aneurysm Risk Factors Every Woman Should Know

Our hearts pour out to Joni Mitchell and the approximate 2o,ooo women a year that suffer from a Brain Aneurysm in the United States. March is international women’s month and this article contains 8 risk brain aneurysm factors that every woman should know.

We are fortunate and grateful that Joni is still with us, considering 4 in 10 ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal.

Joni is not alone, as brain aneurysms are more common in women than in men (3:2 ratio). There are two groups of women that are particularly inclined to develop aneurysms. The first group is women in their early twenties that have more than one aneurysm. The other vulnerable group is women over 55 years old. They are also more likely to have ruptures than men. Women post menopause are one and half times more likely to develop a brain aneurysm as opposed to men. As such, it is important that women are aware of what a brain aneurysm is, what happens to your brain during an aneurysm and the many risk factors.

an unruptured- brain aneurysmA brain aneurysm (AN-yoo-riz-um) is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain that can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

Most often a ruptured brain aneurysm occurs in the space between the brain and the thin tissues covering the brain. This type of hemorrhagic stroke is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Why are women more at risk than men? Researchers are still working to figure this out. However, some believe that it has to do with estrogen levels. They believe higher estrogen levels help protect the brain from an aneurysm, so when a woman’s estrogen level decreases post menopause the risk for brain aneurysms increase.

What Happens to your Brain During an Aneurysm?

“When an aneurysm ruptures, blood enters, under considerable pressure, into the spinal fluid space that normally surrounds your brain. Brain aneurysms are a problem with the arteries, which transmit blood under pressure, pumped by the heart.  Any increase in volume within the skull (blood, in this case), quickly increases the pressure within the skull. This type of mechanical pressure can damage the brain by having a squeezing effect, otherwise referred to as mass effect. In more severe situations, part of the brain may herniate into a space where it shouldn’t be in”

 Michael Chen, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Rush University Medial Center.

There are many risk factors at play, including genetics, that may cause a brain aneurysm.  Below are 8 that every woman should be aware of.

8 Brain Aneurysm Risk Factors

  1. Smoking
  2. High Blood Pressure
  3. Alcohol Consumption
  4. A Brain Injury
  5. Congenital defects
  6. Certain blood infections
  7. Atherosclerosis (Hardening of the arteries)
  8. Lower Estrogen Levels after Menopause

Much research is needed to detect and prevent devastating brain aneurysms like Joni Mitchell’s. Until then, a brain aneurysm will continue to strike someone in the US every 18 minutes.  Spread the word.

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