Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aneurysms Can Be Swift, Silent and Very Deadly

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aneurysms Can Be Swift, Silent and Very Deadly

Article excerpt

In most cases, there is no warning.

For as many as half the people who suffer a ruptured cerebral aneurysm - a burst blood vessel in the brain - death comes before they can reach a hospital.

Even for those who get to medical help, the odds are long. About half of those patients will either die or end up seriously impaired. And it happens far more often than most would imagine. About 30,000 Americans have burst cerebral aneurysms each year. Among them are Bill Berry, drummer of the rock group R.E.M., who suffered one on stage in Germany in March 1995; he survived. And prize-winning New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin had one in 1994. He lived to write about it. And now, possibly, Julie E. Jones of Kirkwood, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Missouri at Columbia. Jones was found dead in her dorm room early Tuesday morning. The Boone County medical examiner said Wednesday that a ruptured aneurysm may have caused her death. Between 2 percent and 5 percent of the population are believed to have cerebral aneurysms, which are swellings in arteries that provide blood to the brain. Most look something like a balloon - narrow at the neck, where they attach to the artery, and wider toward the end, which is typically the weakest point. Many people will never know they have an aneurysm, because there are usually no symptoms unless it bursts. "It's not something that's easy to detect," explained Dr. Michael Diringer, director of the neurology/neurosurgery intensive-care unit at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. When an aneurysm is detected before it ruptures, surgeons can often repair the artery by placing clips on the narrow neck of the swelling to reinforce the weakened vessel wall. Barnes-Jewish doctors are trying a new technique: threading a long, flexible tube through arteries from the groin area to the brain. …

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