The first time I ever heard of a brain aneurysm was in 2001 when female Gladiator star, Christy Skoglund, known to fans as Sahara, died of one at the age of 33. Her death was widely publicised at the time, and I remember thinking how frightening the concept of an aneurysm was and that any one of us could get one at any time, without warning.
I incorrectly assumed, as I think many people do, that an aneurysm is a blood clot, something that just suddenly appears. I didn’t understand that it’s often present from birth, starting out as a weakened area in the artery, which grows over time. Pumping blood enters the little sack causing it to enlarge and deteriorate slowly, like blowing up a balloon, until one day, it bursts, causing bleeding in the brain.
One in 50 people are living with a brain aneurysm and don’t know it. Every 18 minutes someone experiences a brain aneurysm rupture. Half are fatal, and two-thirds of people who survive will live with a permanent brain injury that will alter their lives forever. Half the victims are younger than 50 and most are women.