Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Headaches ‘may be aneurisms’

LIFE-THREATENING:Doctors urge people experiencing sudden, severe headaches to seek help immediately. Burst aneurisms often end in comas, paralysis or death

By Tsai Shu-yuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Doctors said that people should seek immediate medical attention if they experience the sudden onset of severe headaches as that might be caused by aneurisms bursting, with 50 percent of such cases resulting in death.

The doctors said that there are many cases of strokes — a full half of the peak numbers in the winter season — after summer begins.

Chung Shan Medical Unviersity Hospital neurosurgeon Su Chen-hsing (蘇振興) said 11 out of every 100,000 people suffer aneurisms and that aneurisms cause 5 percent of strokes.

Aneurisms form due to damage to the walls of the blood vessels and the formation of bulges from blood circulation, Su said, adding that hypertension, smoking and drinking were all dangerous for aneurism patients.

There are no symptoms of aneurisms until they burst, which might happen at any time, Su said, adding that extremes in weather may contribute to aneurisms bursting.

Su cited a case in June last year in which a 46-year-old female surnamed Hu’s (胡) aneurism ruptured after returning home from working the night shift, causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage, complicated by an intraventricular hemorrhage and symptoms of hydrocephalus.

Su said that Hu was diagnosed with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 7 when she arrived at the hospital, adding that after immediate surgery removing the ruptured aneurism, blood clots and draining the cerebrospinal fluids, Hu had regained consciousness after a month.

Su said that Hu did not have any of “the hypers” — hypetension, hyperlipidemia and hyperglycemia — nor a family history of cerebrovascular diseases, but that Hu had congenitally thin vascular walls and developed aneurisms due to damage to them.

The difference in temperature before and after having taken a bath might have caused the rupture, Su said.

Su also cited another case in which a 43-year-old hotel manager surnamed Lee (李) was hospitalized last year due to an aneurism rupture after taking a bath, adding that Lee was a smoker — two packs a day — and had been smoking for at least 10 years.

Su called for patients not to ignore sudden, painful headaches, adding that some people tolerate the pains for weeks and by the time they are sent to the hospital after fainting, it was too late.

Aneurism ruptures tend to become more common between the ages of 40 and 60, Su said, adding that one-fifth of the patients die before reaching the hospital.

Another quarter of patients drop into a coma or suffer partial or complete paralysis, Su said, adding that only one-quarter of patients whose aneurisms ruptured survived and regained their health.

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