This weekend, social media and news networks reported that legendary radio personality, Kidd Kraddick, died from a brain aneurysm. We now know now that this initial report turned out to be inaccurate.
Earlier this week, the Jefferson Parish coroner’s office reported that Mr. Kraddick may have died from cardiac disease. Jeffrey Schussler, M.D., a cardiologist on the medical staff at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, explained what may have contributed to his death in yesterday’s post.
But for a few days, the public assumed he may have died from a brain aneurysm and because aneurysms can be unpredictable, many people have questions about this scary and life-threatening medical condition. Given this discussion, I thought now would be a good time to address some common questions and concerns regarding aneurysms.
Q: What is an aneurysm?
An aneurysm is an area of a blood vessel that has a weak spot. Over time, that weak spot can balloon outward and form a pouch. Once the pouch (aneurysm) has formed, there is a risk it can tear open and leak blood.
When this happens inside the brain, it can cause a headache, vomiting, stroke like symptoms (such as weakness, numbness, difficulty speaking), or even death. This is a scary thought. Reading information on the Internet can be even more concerning.
You might find that it is estimated that one in every 50 Americans is walking around with one of these pouches (aneurysms) in the brain.
At that point, every headache seems very concerning. While this is true, let us also look at some of the more positive facts. Less than 1 percent of these pouches rupture each year according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
Q: What can you do to prevent an aneurysm?
First, the best thing you can do for your health is to have a primary care provider. Maintain regular checkups so that your blood pressure is checked periodically because risk of rupture increases when blood pressure is out of control. Discuss any headaches or other concerns with your doctor so that he or she can decide if any further testing is needed.
If any family members have had an aneurysm, please make sure to tell your physician.
Other risk factors listed by the Brain Aneurysm Foundation are smoking, being over 40 years old, or drug use (specifically cocaine).
Q: When should I go to the emergency department for a headache?
A severe headache that occurs suddenly should be evaluated by a medical professional. Changes in behavior and alertness warrant a trip to the hospital as well. A loss of change in the ability to do usual activities is also of concern. This would include vision loss, difficulty speaking or walking, or numbness and tingling.
In conclusion, a ruptured brain aneurysm is a serious and life threatening problem, but staying healthy and making regular visits to your doctor are steps you can take to decrease your risk of death and complications.
To learn more about cerebral (or brain) aneurysms, visit BaylorHealth.com. You can also watch the animated video below to see visuals of how they form and how they are treated.
Click the below image to view an aneurysm animation (click image to watch):