Health Buzz: Coffee, Sex Increase Aneurysm Risk

7 signs you could be at risk of a brain attack; 5 symptoms you need to know to recognize a stroke.

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Coffee, Sex, Exercise Among Triggers for Ruptured Brain Aneurysm

Having sex or drinking coffee could rupture a brain aneurysm, new research suggests. When people with aneurysms—or weak spots in blood vessels in their brains—are under stress, those spots are liable to rip open, causing a stroke. Eight activities increase that risk, according to a study published Thursday in Stroke, based on an analysis of 250 patients who had a stroke resulting from an aneurysm. The findings suggest that drinking coffee increases aneurysm rupture risk by 10.6 percent, followed by vigorous exercise (7.9 increased risk), nose-blowing (5.4 percent), and having sex (4.3 percent). Other triggers include being startled, getting angry, and straining on the toilet. The common factor between the activities, the researchers said, is that they all produce sudden, brief increases in blood pressure. The risk associated with each trigger lasts about one hour. People with aneurysms should take protective steps, like drinking less coffee and treating constipation, according to the study.

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  • Stroke: 7 Signs You Could Be at Risk of a Brain Attack

    Stroke can hit like a deadly lightning bolt. And if the victim survives, the aftermath can be debilitating—affecting functioning from movement to speech. While stroke is the third-leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, it trails behind other major diseases in awareness and recognition of symptoms. Being informed, however, can protect you from suffering either an ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot and the most common form of stroke, or the less common hemorrhagic stroke, caused by bleeding in the brain. Know the factors that may be putting you at risk:

    Uncontrolled high blood pressure. As for all cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke. The American Heart Association estimates that only 45 percent of people with high blood pressure actually have it under control. Female stroke victims, in particular, tend to have uncontrolled blood pressure, and in general, women who suffer strokes don't seem to be treated as aggressively as men. High blood pressure doesn't have any outward telltale signs, so getting it measured by your healthcare provider is essential to determine if you should make lifestyle changes or take medications to bring it down.

    Smoking. Puffing on cigarettes is associated with a host of ills. An increased risk of stroke is one of them. When compared to nonsmokers, smokers have double the risk of ischemic stroke. Heavy smokers face an even greater risk: A study of women ages 15 to 49 published in the journal Stroke found stroke risk was proportional to the number of cigarettes smoked per day. The women who smoked two or more packs a day had nine times the risk of stroke of a nonsmoker. And a study in Neurology found that smokers with a family history of brain aneurysm, abnormal bulging of an artery in the brain, are six times as likely to have a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a kind of stroke caused by a bleed between the brain and the tissue that covers it. These types of stroke are deadly nearly 40 percent of the time. [Read more: Stroke: 7 Signs You Could Be at Risk of a Brain Attack.]

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    • 5 Symptoms You Need to Know to Recognize a Stroke Immediately

      Minimizing the time between the onset of a stroke and the start of stroke treatment is critical for surviving the brain attack and minimizing the resulting brain injury. The key is to immediately get to the emergency room for a brain scan to detect which type of stroke has hit. If it's ischemic—caused by a blood clot—the best treatment is a clot-dissolving drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or TPA, and the quicker the treatment, the less the disabling damage. Most hospitals will treat stroke patients with TPA only if the medicine can be injected within three hours of the appearance of symptoms, which is why getting to the hospital is such an urgent matter. One study found, however, that TPA can be safe and effective up to 4½ hours after a stroke. Treatment for hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a bleeding vessel in the brain, involves lowering blood pressure and reducing swelling in the brain.