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Aneurysms Common, Sometimes Deadly

Brain Aneurysm Triggers Fatal Hemorrhage for Rep. Tubbs Jones, 58

Is there a typical age bracket for aneurysms to rupture?

"They are most common in middle age -- the 40s and 50s are the peak ages," he says. But they can happen at any age. "I've seen them in teenagers. They do occasionally occur in elderly people."

What can someone do to reduce the risk of an aneurysm growing and rupturing?

"Not smoking and treating hypertension prevent aneurysms from growing and rupturing," Kirshner says.

In general, what is the outlook for someone whose brain aneurysm bursts?

The prognosis, Kirshner says, "is very uncertain." A ruptured aneurysm can cause sudden death, he says. In general, "if you are in bad shape right in the beginning, the odds of recovery are much lower." The overall death rate once the aneurysm ruptures is about 40%, he says.

What might be done when the rupture is discovered?

Getting treatment as soon as possible is critical, he says. If it's possible to do surgery, one option is to go in surgically and put a clip across the aneurysm to stop bleeding. "An even more common surgery is to go through the artery and deploy a coil [into the aneurysm, using a tiny catheter] and the coil causes the aneurysm to shut off." The coil causes a clot to form around the sac, sealing off the aneurysm defect.

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