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A is for aneurysm.

Aneurysms are serious business.

Have you ever seen in cartoons where a water hose gets pinched up and then part of it balloons out from the water pressure and eventually explodes water everywhere? No? Well, there is a pretty sorry one a little further down so don’t feel too bad about it!

Anyway, the ballooning part of the hose is pretty much what an aneurysm is except replace the hose with an artery and the water with blood and the soaked ground with internal bleeding, a stroke, or sudden and unexpected death. Aneurysms are no fun, guys.

Aneurysms occur at weak locations in the walls of blood vessels. Blood vessels can be weakened by material building up on it (clogged arteries) or they can just come weak because of bad genetics. High blood pressure makes it worse because it causes increased load on the vessel walls which weaken it and it lowers the threshold at which a wall will fail.

I’ve read through some stories about aneurysms and they are frightening for two reasons.

The first is that aneurysms are usually asymptomatic so they appear to strike out of the blue. Healthy one day and dead the next. There typically aren’t any symptoms that go along with aneurysms until it is pretty much too late. You might experience trouble breathing and chest pain if it is an arterial aneurysm or double vision and the worst headaches you have ever had in your life if it is a brain aneurysm. These symptoms typically occur when it is too late to do anything about them. Yikes.

The second is that they can happen at any age. Of course there were stories of OLD people because really old people are all about disease no matter how awful it is. There were also stories of otherwise healthy people in their twenties and thirtie. That is a little bit more sobering. The worst, though, was the story of an eleven year old girl that complained of a headache and then died of an aneurysm. Are aneurysms bumming you out yet?

If they are caught early there are a few treatments that might help you out though they seem CRAZY. You can opt to have the doctors cut (chisel, maybe) a flap in your skull and pinch off the aneurysm with a bit of wire. You might instead choose to have them thread a catheter through the arteries in your groin up through your chest and around into your brain so as to force the blood to clot up and close off the aneurysm. If it is in your limbs are torso they might just cut you open and replace the weak section with a graft tube. None of these treatments is one hundred percent effective, unfortunately, and you might get a stroke whilst being treated which is sucky.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. There are some things you can do to lessen your risk of aneurysm:

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Don’t drink alcohol.
  3. Don’t abuse drugs (especially those that are taken intravenously).
  4. Watch your weight and cholesterol.
  5. Exercise for thirty minutes every day.
  6. Have low blood pressure.
  7. Don’t be related by blood to people that have had aneurysms (MOST IMPORTANT).

If you are at risk of aneurysm be especially conscious of warning signs so that it can be caught early. Even if they are caught early they are really dangerous and problematic.

Long story short: aneurysms are awful.


  1. Daphna Craven wrote:

    I don’t know if this was meant to be funny. But I laughed out loud at the end. Although, knowing you, it probably is meant to be at least a little humorous. 🙂

    Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Bonnie wrote:

    All I can say is you better hope I don’t die from an aneurysm or else you will never get a restful night’s sleep ever again!!!!

    Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  3. Joshua wrote:

    Maybe a little humorous. But seriously don’t get an aneurysm. Especially you, mom.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

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