Brain Aneurysms' 7 Deadly Sins

Brain aneurysms rupture more often after certain activities

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Coffee, exercise and sex? A new list of pleasurable activities that can raise the risk for rupturing a brain aneurysm. Researchers from the Netherlands published a new study identifing the "seven deadly activities."

Monique H.M. Vlak, M.D., lead author of the study and a neurologist at the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands, observed that all of the triggers induce a sudden and short increase in blood pressure, a common cause for a brain aneurysm to rupture. Risk was also higher after drinking alcohol, but this risk decreased quite quickly.

"Quickly raising blood pressure can cause brain aneurysms to rupture."

The researchers identified these factors and their contribution to the risk of rupturing brain aneurysms as:

  1. Drinking coffee (10.6 percent)
  2. Vigorously exercising (7.9 percent)
  3. Nose blowing (5.4 percent)
  4. Engaging in Sex (4.3 percent)
  5. Being startled or angry (4.0 percent)
  6. Straining to defecate (3.6 percent)
  7. Drinking soda (3.5 percent)

A brain hemorrhage caused by the rupture of a brain aneurysm is a devastating event that often affects very young adults.

Brain aneurysms are a weakness in the wall of a brain blood vessel which often causes it to balloon. If this balloon ruptures, it can result in a stroke caused by bleeding at the base of the brain. An estimated 2 percent of the general population have brain aneurysms, but few rupture.

The researchers are not suggesting limiting physical activity even though it has triggering potential because there are so many health benefits derived from regular exercise. 

They are, however, advising a reduction in caffeine consumption and laxative use in constipated patients. Whether prescription antihypertensive drugs are appropriate to prescribe for patients with unruptured brain aneurysms still needs to be further investigated.

The Study

  • 250 patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage completed a questionnaire about exposure to 30 potential trigger factors in the period shortly before their event including the usual frequency and intensity of exposure to these factors
  • The findings were limited by the retrospective design of the study
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Review Date: 
May 9, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011