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6 May 2011
Having sex a major trigger for brain aneurysm
by George Atkinson

Drinking coffee, having sex, blowing your nose and defecating all raise your risk of rupturing a brain aneurysm - and suffering a stroke, say researchers in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The researchers, from The Netherlands, identified the eight main triggers that appear to increase the risk of intracranial aneurysm (IA), a weakness in the wall of a brain blood vessel that often causes it to balloon. If it ruptures, it can result in a stroke. An estimated 2 percent of the general population have IAs, but few rupture.

The eight factors and their contribution to risk were:

  • Coffee consumption (11 percent)
  • Vigorous physical exercise (8 percent)
  • Nose blowing (5 percent)
  • Sexual intercourse (4 percent)
  • Straining to defecate (4 percent)
  • Cola consumption (4 percent)
  • Being startled (3 percent)
  • Being angry (1 percent)

"All of the triggers induce a sudden and short increase in blood pressure, which seems a possible common cause for aneurysmal rupture," said researcher Monique H.M. Vlak, from the University Medical Center in Utrecht.

Although physical activity had triggering potential, the 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 added. "Whether prescribing antihypertensive drugs to patients with unruptured IAs is beneficial in terms of preventing aneurysmal rupture still needs to be further investigated."

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Source: American Heart Association

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