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Coffee and sex could trigger brain problems

Did you know about 2% of the population has a brain aneurysm or an outward bulge on the brain?  That’s about one in 15 people. 

Brain aneurysms can burst unexpectedly and can cause bleeding in the brain.  Recently Dutch researchers looked into the reasons an aneurysm can burst and found eight triggers: 

  • Coffee consumption
  • Physical exercise
  • Blowing your nose
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Straining to go to the bathroom
  • Drinking soda
  • Being startled
  • Being angry

 “All of the triggers induce a sudden and short increase in blood pressure, which seems a possible common cause for aneurysmal rupture,” said Monique H.M. Vlak, M.D., lead author of the study and a neurologist at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Risk was higher shortly after drinking alcohol, but decreased quickly, researchers said.

“Subarachnoid hemorrhage caused by the rupture of an intracranial aneurysm is a devastating event that often affects young adults,” Vlak said. “These trigger factors we found are superimposed on known risk factors, including female gender, age and hypertension.”

Although physical activity had triggering potential, researchers don’t advise refraining from it because it’s also an important factor in lowering risk of other cardiovascular diseases.

“Reducing caffeine consumption or treating constipated patients with unruptured IAs with laxatives may lower the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage,” Vlak said. “Whether prescribing antihypertensive drugs to patients with unruptured IAs is beneficial in terms of preventing aneurysmal rupture still needs to be further investigated.”

Researchers asked 250 patients with aneurysms to fill out a questionnaire on the things they were doing just before their aneurysm blew.  The findings were printed in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

 Facts about Brain Aneurysms

  • Brain aneurysms can occur in people of all ages, but are most commonly detected in those ages 35 to 60
  • Women are actually more likely to get a brain aneurysm than men, with a ratio of 3:2
  • Facts provided by Brain Aneurysm resource website