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Emily Clarke of Game of Thrones made national headlines last week after revealing that she nearly died, after it had burst on not just one, but two aneurysms in the brain. In a powerful essay for New Yorker the actress recounted how she was hospitalized in 2011 in the midst of training following a nagging headache. After a few preliminary scans, Clarke was told that an aneurysm in her brain was torn and needed her right away. She was only 24 years old.
Miraculously, Clarke survived after spending a month in the hospital. But in 201
She's free at the moment, but she'll probably need to do routine brain scans and MRI scans Look out for other potential growth factors An illuminating essay on such shocking health anxiety raises many questions about how someone as healthy, active, and as young as young like Clarke could suffer from such a serious – and possibly fatal – condition twice.  It turns out that what Clarke has experienced is not exactly unusual – in fact, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, there are currently about 6 million in the US n or 1 in 50 people with a uninterrupted brain aneurysm – and women in particular have an increased risk of developing this silent and potentially fatal disease disability.
What exactly is a brain aneurysm?
"Sometimes a weak or thin spot of an artery in the brain swells or bulges and fills with blood, and this bladder on the wall of an artery is called a brain aneurysm." Rahul Jandial, author of Neurofitness dual-purpose brain surgeon and neuroscientist at City of Hope, Los Angeles.
These seemingly harmless bubbles remain inactive until sometime, causing them to explode. "Most people do not even know they have an aneurysm," explains Dr. Jandial. "They could live with one for years and never be confronted with any symptoms." [it] causes serious complications in aneurysm injuries. "
Of the 6 million people living with aneurysms, about 30,000 people suffer a fracture each year. "When an aneurysm ruptures, blood flows into the surrounding tissue, also known as bleeding," Dr. Jandial. "These bleedings are fast acting and can lead to serious health problems such as stroke, brain damage, coma and even death." (Related: Science Confirms: Exercise Benefits for Your Brain)
Because aneurysms basically tick time bombs and are often undetectable before fracture, they are extremely difficult to diagnose, which is why their mortality rate is very high: around 40 percent of aneurysm cases Broken brains are deadly, and about 15 percent of people die before they reach the hospital, the Foundation reports. No wonder the doctors said Clarke's survival was a miracle.
Women are at greater risk.
On the whole, doctors do not know exactly what causes aneurysms or why they can occur in people as young as Clarke. Lifestyle factors such as genetics, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and drug use put people at a higher risk in any case. "Anything that makes your heart work twice as hard to pump blood increases your risk of developing aneurysms," Dr. Jandial.
Certain groups of people also develop aneurysms more often than others. For example, women are one and a half times (!) more frequently aneurysms than men. "We do not know exactly why that is," says Dr. Jandial. "Some believe it is linked to the decline or lack of estrogen, but there is not enough research to find an exact cause."
In particular, physicians find that two different women's groups are particularly prone to developing aneurysms. "The first is a woman in her early 20s, like Clarke, who has more than one aneurysm," Dr. Jandial. "This group is usually genetically predisposed, and women are likely to be born with arteries that have thinner walls." (Related: female doctors are better than male doctors, new research findings)
The second group includes postmenopausal women over the age of 55, who in addition to a higher risk for aneurysms are generally more likely to fracture compared to men. "These women, who are in their 50s and 60s, have usually lived a life of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other debilitating health issues that are ultimately the cause of their aneurysms. Jandial.
How do you know if you need help?
"When you come to the hospital and say that you have the worst headache of your life, we know that we need to look for a broken aneurysm right away," Dr. Jandial.
These severe headaches, also called thunderclap headaches, are one of several symptoms associated with ruptured aneurysms. Nausea, vomiting, confusion, photosensitivity, and blurred or double vision are other signs to watch out for, not to mention the symptoms Clarke experienced during her own health anxiety. (See: What You're Saying With Your Headache)
If you're lucky enough to survive the first break, Dr. "It's hard to get back to your original self after experiencing something so catastrophic," he says. "Clarke definitely hit the odds because not many people are so happy."
So what is important for women to know? "If you have a headache you've never experienced before, it's important to seek medical help right away," says Dr. Jandial. "Do not try to work through the pain, listen to your body and get to the ER before it's too late, if you get a diagnosis and immediate treatment, you'll increase your chances of a full recovery."