When your head hurts like being hit with a hammer in winter…

◇ If you have a severe headache that you have never experienced before, it is very likely a ruptured brain aneurysm. *Source=Shutterstock

In the cold winter, if you suddenly experience a severe headache like being hit in the head with a hammer and a stiff neck, you should visit the hospital quickly. This is because it can be a symptom of increased intracranial pressure due to bleeding from a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Vascular disease is especially dangerous in the cold winter, when blood pressure often changes due to the large temperature difference between inside and outside, so special attention is needed.

◆ Cerebral aneurysm… . I don’t know the cause

A cerebral aneurysm is a vascular disease in which part of the wall of a cerebral artery’s blood vessel is stretched, causing small cracks and abnormal swelling such as an auricle.

According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of domestic patients diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm in 2021 was 143,808, an increase of about 5.6 times from 25,713 in 2010.

Women are more than twice as likely to have the disease as men, and the number of patients being sent to hospital for a ruptured brain aneurysm (subarachnoid haemorrhage) also increased from 5,490 in 2011 to 6,071 in 2021.

The exact cause of a brain aneurysm is not yet known, but genetic factors are thought to be an important cause, and smoking and high blood pressure, which increase stress on blood vessel walls, are thought to be the causes.

◆ ‘Subarachnoid haemorrhage’ is the biggest problem

The biggest problem of brain aneurysms is ‘subarachnoid haemorrhage’, and when a subarachnoid haemorrhage occurs, it is said that around 20 to 60% of them die.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage refers to a disease where bleeding occurs in the space (subarachnoid space) under the ‘arachnoid’, one of the meninges that surrounds the brain parenchyma.

This space is relatively wide, and most of the large blood vessels that supply blood to the brain pass through, and it is an important space for cerebrospinal fluid to communicate.

◆ ‘Brain aneurysm’, a ticking time bomb in the head

Recently, an increasing number of patients are being diagnosed with a ‘non-rupturing brain aneurysm’, a pre-rupture condition, through CT and MRI scans of the brain in health examinations.

Most patients with unobstructed brain aneurysms are asymptomatic, but half of them are said to result in subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Therefore, non-rupturing patients need to be aware of their condition at all times, and to prevent a rupture, thorough health care and continuous emergency preparedness are required.

In particular, as the possibility of bleeding increases with age, special attention is needed for the elderly.

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