Actor Emilia Clarke, who portrayed the role of Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game of Thrones, recently opened up about the two brain aneurysms she suffered while filming the show. In conversation with BBC One’s Sunday Morning, Ms Clarke revealed that she had survived two brain aneurysms in 2011 and 2013 and that for “the amount of my brain is no longer usable. it’s remarkable that I am able to speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life completely normally with absolutely no repercussions. I am in the really, really, really small minority of people that can survive that.”
What is Brain Aneurysm?
Aneurysm is a swelling that occurs in the blood vessels due to the weakening of its walls that causes a bulging appearance. It can form in blood vessels in any part of the body, including arteries and veins and can have serious consequences. Usually the most common occurrence of aneurysm has been seen in the aorta, back of the knees, brain or intestines. If the aneurysm gets ruptured, it can even cause internal bleeding and stroke leading to casualty. It is caused by a combination of potential risk factors like smoking, advanced age, high cholesterol, hypertension or tissue disorders. The symptoms are only prevalent when it ruptures and intervention is possible depending upon the location size and the condition of aneurysm.
Who is at risk of Aneurysm?
Males are more likely to develop aneurysms than females. People in the age group of 60 and above are at a higher risk. Other factors may include:
• Fat and cholesterol diet
• A family history of heart disease and heart attack
• Pregnancy can also increase risk of aneurysm of the spleen
What are the types of Aneurysm?
The classification of aneurysm is basically done depending on its location in the body. Blood vessels of the brain and the heart are the most common locations to get seriously affected. The swelling can be of two types. Either the complete blood vessel is swollen or a specific side of the blood vessel can bulge out from sides.
How is it diagnosed?
Usually, an aneurysm remains undetected and screening may be required for the patients needing monitoring or treatment. Women being at lower risk of developing aneurysm, men must undergo ultrasound screening for sure around the age of 55 years and above. More so if they are regular smokers. MRI scans are useful for identifying aneurysms that do not rupture but the symptoms are prevalent. In case, the aneurysm gets ruptured and leads to the risk of bleeding in the brain, CT scans are preferred. An angiogram may be performed in extreme cases with severe rupture and bleeding in the brain to identify the exact area for treatment.
How can surgical intervention with a Flow Diversion Stent help?
This device is the new innovative intervention for treatment of aneurysm for the initial stages when it has not ruptured. Flow diverter stent is a pipeline method technique that includes placing a device inside the sac of the parent blood vessel to divert the blood flow from the aneurysm. This intervention is an endovascular technique in which a cylindrical, metallic mesh stent is placed inside the blood vessel containing aneurysm. These stents prevent the coils from exiting the aneurysm and maintain the pressure on the coil to keep aneurysm under control. Over a period of time, blood clots on the coil are naturally healed and the blood is diverted away from the vessels that are already weakened to prevent any rupture.
Flow Diversion can be used to treat large or giant wide-necked brain aneurysms and is the most effective and the newest technology available for the treatment.
Can Aneurysm be prevented?
Most of the cases being congenital, it is not always possible to prevent aneurysm. However, certain changes in lifestyle can help prevent the risk
1. Smoking cessation – Smoking is one of the major risk factors for development of aneurysm and its rupture. Immediately stopping smoking can reduce the risk by 80 per cent.
2. Maintaining blood pressure – High blood pressure tends to weaken the walls of the blood vessels due to its pressure. Hence maintaining healthy blood pressure reduces the risk of aneurysm. Following a balanced diet intake, regular exercise and medication can maintain a healthy blood pressure.
3. Maintaining normal BMI – Increased weight puts extra pressure on the heart, hence reducing and maintaining healthy body weight helps in reducing the stress on the walls of the blood vessels.
4. Prevent high cholesterol diet – High cholesterol intake leads to plaque build-up inside the blood vessels that causes reduced space for the blood flow. This puts excess pressure and stress on the walls of the blood vessels leading to weakened vessels. This condition is known as atherosclerosis which has a very high linkage to form aneurysm.