People sometimes joke about being so stressed out that they're about to burst an aneurysm. Unfortunately, for the estimated six million Americans whose brains harbor an aneurysm - a dangerously weakened portion of a blood vessel - that's not so far from the truth.
In a study published recently in the journal "Stroke," scientists pinpointed eight everyday activities can cause a brain aneurysm to rupture and bleed
8. Drinking coffee
For most people, of course, a cup of joe is perfectly safe. But for folks with a bran aneurysm, a single cup nearly doubles the risk of a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
6. Nose-blowing (tie)
Allergy season can be deadly for hankie-clutchers who harbor a brain aneurysm. Nose-blowing raises the threat of a burst aneurysm almost 250 percent.
6. Vigorous exercise (tie)
Exercise can bring weight loss and lower blood pressure, in addition to other health benefits. But for people with a brain aneurysm, vigorous workouts can increase the risk of a subarachnoid hemorrhage by 250 percent.
5. Drinking cola
If drinking coffee nearly doubles the risk of a brain bleed, then drinking cola should be less risky. After all, colas generally contain less caffeine. But the study showed that drinking cola was twice as likely as drinking coffee to cause a brain bleed.
The study showed that anger causes an almost seven-fold increase in the risk of a brain bleed.
3. Straining on the toilet
For people with a brain aneurysm, constipation is more than a nuisance. Researchers found that straining to defecate can cause over a seven-fold increase in the risk of a brain bleed. "Treating constipated patients with laxatives may lower the risk of subarachnoid hemorrhage," study author Dr. Monique Vlak, neurologist at University Medical Center in the Dutch city of Utrecht, wrote in the journal.
2. Having sex
Sex can cause the pleasure centers in the brain to "light up." Alas, it can also cause a brain aneurysm to rupture. The study showed that sex increased the risk 11 times over.
Horror movie fans, beware: being startled may be the most dangerous thing there is for someone with a brain aneurysm. The study showed that it makes an aneurysm an astounding 23 times more likely to burst.
How can you tell if you have a brain aneurysm? It isn't so easy. Pain behind the eyes, vision problems, and facial paralysis are all symptoms - so anyone experiencing one or more of those symptoms should consult a doctor or head to the ER. Even if you don't have symptoms, doctors say it's a good idea to be screened for aneurysms - typically via a CT or MRI scan or a more invasive procedure called cerebral angiography - if you have a family history of the condition. If an aneurysm is found, the doctor may recommend surgery.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke offers more information on cerebral aneurysm.